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Virginia Beach Parks & Rec to shut down 14 child care programs due to staffing shortages

The city is missing more than one-third of the part-time staff they use to keep their before-school and after-school programs running.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation is shutting down 14 child care programs due to a worker shortage.

The city announced Tuesday that the cancelations would affect about 300 children. They're also relocating some other after-school programs, to consolidate their programs down to 10 locations.

Michael Kirschman, the director of the city's Parks & Recreation, told 13News Now about 115 part-time workers are staffing out-of-school programs across the city. 

Currently, they're short 50 staff members, like activity aides and activity leaders.

RELATED: Here's what Hampton Roads school divisions are doing to ease teachers' stress

"Like childcare providers nationwide, hiring and onboarding qualified team members has been a consistent struggle throughout the pandemic," Parks & Recreation's website reads. "After months of borrowing staff from other department units, the staffing situation has become unsustainable, risking program quality which cannot be compromised in the best interest of the participants."

The city chose which after-school programs to shut down based on low registration, but Kirschman said closing childcare programs was still a worst-case scenario.

"We know that this will put many parents in a very difficult position trying to secure alternative childcare, but we have done everything in our power to avoid this and we are sorry that it's come to this point," he said.

Child care offerings will continue in the city's other elementary schools.

Kristyn Worthley's son is a kindergartner at John B. Dey Elementary, and she plans to enroll him in the afterschool program in January. 

The elementary school is not one of the locations impacted by the change. 

Worthley is thankful, but says it is "bittersweet." 

"That doesn’t mean my son’s school is still protected from keeping that service. Right? So I still have to feel on edge even though the services are still being provided where my son goes to school today," she said. 

“I literally was holding my breath as I was clicking on the link and I was scrolling down. I was like ‘please no, please no,'" said parent Rita Mills.

While Mills is relieved her son will still have after-school at Providence, she told 13News Now she feels for the impacted families.

“I really feel bad for everyone, especially the lower incomes, because it’s going to be hard for them to find another after-school or before-school program that offers them the same cost and level of care," she said. 

Staffing issues are not unique to Virginia Beach, but Peter Shaw, a business professor at Tidewater Community College, says local governments are now realizing they're suffering the same labor shortage as other industries. 

And he says they'll need to figure it out.  

“The public sector has always experienced a type of lag when it comes to pay scale than the private sector, but it is more acute now," said Shaw. 

Kirschman remains hopeful that more people will apply and fill much-needed positions, like for activity aides and leaders. 

The changes don't go into effect immediately. After-school cancelations will begin on Jan. 3, 2022. Before-school cancellations will go into effect on Dec. 21. Program relocations happen on Nov. 29.

You can get more details about the closures here and for a description of the job openings, click here

Canceled after-school programs:

  • Bayside
  • Corporate Landing
  • Creeds
  • Fairfield
  • Kempsville
  • Linkhorn Park
  • Malibu
  • North Landing
  • Pembroke Meadows
  • Salem
  • White Oaks

Relocated after-school programs:

  • Cooke (moving to Birdneck Elementary)
  • College Park (moving to Woodstock Elementary)
  • Green Run (moving to Holland Elementary)
  • Luxford (moving to Bettie F. Williams)
  • Lynnhaven (moving to Kings Grant Elementary)
  • Newtown (moving to Diamond Springs)
  • Ods (moving to Pembroke Elementary)
  • Parkway (moving to Rosemont Elementary)
  • Shelton Park (moving to Hermitage Elementary)
  • Windsor Oaks (moving to Windsor Woods Elementary)

Canceled before-school programs: 

  • Landstown
  • Three Oaks
  • White Oaks