Parents face child care crisis as Everett business announces imminent closure

Parents were given 17 days’ notice that the Way to Grow Early Learning Center in Everett would close, leaving dozens of families scrambling to get on months-long waiting lists.

Instant panic. This is how August McKenna described the message he received from his child’s nursery.

Way to Grow Early Learning Center in Everett announced this week that they will close their doors to parents and children on July 29 — McKenna and roughly 50 other families were given 17 days notice to find an alternate plan for their children, as a nearby waiting list. facilities are months long.

“We don’t have a plan yet,” McKenna told me bluntly with a nervous laugh as she recounted a whirlwind week of phone calls, emails, scheduled tours and calls to elected officials.

McKenna said he is one of the lucky parents. Both he and his wife Mary’s work have indicated they will support them as they try to come up with a plan. They are quick to point out, others are not so lucky.

“This is not an indefinite license to be a stay-at-home parent and work from home for 6 months until a daycare opens,” McKenna said. “I still have obligations to my employers to fulfill.”

According to Liz Steele, business director, the business had a long waiting list of its own. She was surprised by the news itself. She knew a lease agreement was coming in September, however, she didn’t know the facility would be closing until the general manager notified her Monday — a day before a letter from parents was released saying they “hit some roadblocks.” big with lease renewal.”

Steele is one of 14 employees who will lose their jobs when the business closes. A handful of people will likely stay to earn a paycheck while the business holds a liquidation sale. Then, like the parents, they are out of work. Steele, and others, will also require a childcare service as a number of employees have children who also rely on Where We Grow.

“It’s terrible for the families, it’s terrible for the staff — nobody wins in this situation,” McKenna said.

The term “child care crisis” was frequently used as the pandemic reduced access to services across the United States. Those who follow the industry, take note: it was struggling before COVID-19.

According to the Washington Child Care Collaborative Task Force, half a million children in Washington did not have access to licensed child care before the pandemic. The lack of affordable child care is keeping more than 130,000 potential workers out of the workforce as well.

In Snohomish County, 39 percent of households did not have licensed child care, according to the group’s 2020 report.

Since then, matters have worsened.

In March, Snohomish County had to step in to help fund Everett Community College’s Early Learning Center. If they hadn’t been, the center was slated to close — it will remain open at least through the 2022-2023 school year, providing access to students, staff and community members.

At the time, the Snohomish County executive noted that access to quality child care is critical to the county’s economic recovery mission.

McKenna, in the midst of trying to find child care for his child, has been e-mailing elected officials in hopes of garnering similar help for his son’s early learning center — a commissioner of The district noted that the situation is different from Everett Community College because Way to Grow is a private business.

McKenna was told the county is working to help the day care open and train — but he was told he has to get on waiting lists and call other facilities while he waits for more information on any possible help.

“I know there are many, many rules regarding evictions regarding landlords for tenants living in a property,” McKenna said. “I think it would be reasonable to say when, or how, you shut down services like this. I doubt this particular issue came up this month. It could have been anticipated.”

FOX 13 reached out to the business owner in an attempt to understand when it became clear the business would cease to operate, but with more than 50 parents seeking child care services in a region that has limited supply – these answers won’t mean much to McKenna.

He and others remain hopeful that someone will step in and save the business, or find a way to keep staff and families under one roof. Meanwhile, there is a mad scramble to find babysitters, babysitters, nursery openings and phone calls to family members.

McKenna said most sites won’t tell him how long the wait list is until he goes on a tour, but the ones that have been open have given him parking spots from October, up to more than 6 months .

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.