BROOKLYN, N.Y. (WCBS 880) -- Child care centers are playing a critical role in the economic recovery for working parents, but many are facing staff shortages.
Enrollment at all six locations of Eladia's Kids in Brooklyn is almost at pre-pandemic levels, but finding board-certified teachers has been difficult.
"I had challenges hiring because for our school, the teacher had to have a B.A. in early childhood or a master('s) in early childhood, and also, they had to be certified by the State of New York," explained Eladia Causil-Rodriguez of Eladia's Kids on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank.
Causil-Rodriguez employs teachers for math and science lessons and other staff to facilitate the social outlet children desperately need after two years in the COVID-19 pandemic. She told WCBS 880 she has had to raise wages to fill open positions, which will force them to raise tuition.
"(Parents) need the child care because they cannot be with the child at home at work," said Causil-Rodriguez of how child care has changed with the adoption of remote work.
She said more parents have been sending their kids back to day care in recent months, despite COVID concerns, recognizing they cannot give their children full attention during the work day. Eladia's Kids requires proof of vaccination among staff and eligible kids and deploys a rigorous cleaning regimen on all surfaces.
The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce board member noted some key pivots she made to survive the pandemic, including "video classes" when parents were only allowed to drop-off their kids while remaining socially distanced.
"(The parents) could see how they were jumping in the bed, going to get the toy, all that kind of thing. It was really cute."
Causil-Rodriguez was born and raised in Colombia. She is the youngest of 12 children and a mother of four. While teaching, she saw the need for child care services in other families and she offered to babysit and teach their kids. What started out as a small group became Eladia's Kids.
"People might think that it's not a glamorous job; it is for me," she beamed. "Being a teacher, I think that if I can make a difference in the world of a child, I can make a difference forever."
Eladia said she's a child at heart and her day care center keeps her feeling young, but she is also a smart businesswoman. When she went to open her first location in Park Slope, she told the Small Business Spotlight, she presented her business plan for Eladia's Kids to the building manager. Causil-Rodriguez said he told her, "I want to help you, but one day you want to be the one telling everybody what to do."
"That was it. That was the start," she said.
Watch the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above.