(Update: Adding video, details)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Preschools across Central Oregon are stuck in a bind as they struggle to accommodate children for the coming school term.
That has left many parents scrambling to find alternative options for child care services.
The owner of the School of Enrichment, Katie Brandow, said Tuesday the pandemic has created a major setback for the Bend school. She said it has made it impossible for many preschools and child care services to stay open.
She stressed that funding is the primary issue. With the required emergency license child care services must operate under, many preschools have had trouble keeping up with supply costs. Brandow said the biggest funding challenge is the cost of payroll.
Brandow said the emergency child care license made it mandatory to hire additional staffing because classes could not be combined for COVID-19 safety purposes. Right now, the school is utilizing emergency funds, but Brandow said it's not sustainable. The school is fully booked through August 2022 and has a waitlist. Based on policy, they can only accommodate 65 students per day.
Brandow said the lack of financial support for preschools have pushed parents to rely on nanny services which she says is costly. Otherwise, she said parents have to stay home which impacts the community greatly since it prevents people from staying in the work force.
The director of admissions at Seven Peaks School also reported they were fully booked and had a waitlist.
However, that's not the case for one child care provider.
Kimberly Brown, the director of the Early Head Start and Head Start Program for NeighborImpact said they still have space in all of their communities for all of their programs.
"We also increased by 339 slots last year. If we were in a normal year and did not increase our slots, we would be full right now," Brown added.
When asked how many available slots the Head Start Program has at present, Brown said, "Currently, right now, we are down about 152 in our Head Start Program, which serves 3- to 5-year old, and in our Early Head Start Program, we're down about 60 slots," she said. "That means we have those slots available to children and families that want to apply that live in Crook and Deschutes county."
Brown added that the services are only provided for those families who meet federal poverty guidelines. One of the few opportunities extended to families exceeding those income limits include a child with a disability.