Daycare

Businesses trying to re-open have had a slow go of it, many times due to parents relying on childcare businesses which are having their own troubles gearing back up.

As COVID-19 cases began to drop and businesses began to reopen Natalie Hauck faced the same dilemma as a lot of parents heading back to work.

“I’ve had to find childcare for before school so that I can get work on time. And it’s been a little bit… challenging,” Hauck said.

Hauck, a full-time teacher, plans to send her four-year old daughter to a montessori center in the fall, but has no way to care for her early in the day.

“It starts at nine and then it ends at 3:30,” Hauck said. “So parents who need to get to work, you know at eight o’clock, need to find that before-school care and then my daughter will have to also attend an after school program.”

According to WNY Women’s Foundation director, Sheri Scavone, the so-called ‘daycare desert’ has grown, post pandemic, with 46 percent of parents in a Care.com survey reporting having a harder time finding a place for their children.

“During the pandemic many childcare centers closed,” said Scavone.”We’re hoping most reopen. But the reality of it is that there’s even less availability.”

Some states have begun scrambling to research how many eligible daycare spots they lost due to a daycare closing one room for a lack of workers, or others that just shut down completely, Scavone said.

Those numbers will take time to compile.

Pre-pandemic studies showed the average Texas family spends between $7,000 a year on daycare, according to Marketwatch; and more than $9,000 according to the Economic Policy Institute.

That’s more than the average annual cost of in-state college tuition in this country.

Scavone said parents who put their children in unsubsidized daycares should expect to pay more, as the businesses deal with their own rising costs of staffing back up and re-supplying.

“Are we ready for what we’re faced with as parents returned to work? No, and we have been saying that throughout the pandemic,” Scavone said.

Hauck says she got turned away from many places because her daughter wasn’t old enough for most before-school programs; after knocking on doors for more than a week, she finally managed to find an affordable place for her daughter.

“…and it was a huge relief,” Hauck said.

If you faced the same problem Hauck did, Texas has help for you.

You’ll find the best one stop shop for information on childcare at Texas Workforce Solutions. There you’ll find information on types of daycare, and the Texas agencies that oversee them, along with a tool to search for daycare providers.

The Department of Family Protective Services can explain the standards it requires of day cares and the many laws that cover them. DFPS also has its own page where you can search for daycare.

UT Health has information on childcare through its childcare solutions website, and a voluntary program called Texas rising star lists day cares that offer services – a cut above the rest.

“A huge relief to finally find that resource,” said Houck.

Good luck parents, may your search turnout as good or better than Natalie Hauck’s.

Weddings

When it comes to weddings you find planning one is almost as big a challenge as dayare.

Claire and Derek had their sights set on a beautiful, fall wedding.

“We were supposed to get married October 3 of 2020,” Claire said.

Until the pandemic, derailed their plans.

“We just felt like it was in the best interest of everybody to go ahead and postpone,” Claire said.

That decision meant they had to go back to square one.

“Contacting people, getting pricing, interviewing vendors, and trying to find vendors that were available for our new date,” Claire said.

But with so may weddings postponed last year, the demand for services this year has grown higher than ever.

“I’ve probably turned down 50 to 100 weddings for this year, because we’re completely booked,” said florist Shelley Rundberg.

Rundberg said in addition to a lack of time, supply has become a big issue.

“When COVID started happening, the farms basically shut down,” Rundberg said. “Nobody was there to take care of the crops. Some stuff wasn’t replanted, fires in California last year, did kind of a number on the eucalyptus crops. We’re seeing a very big shortage. We’re even seeing a vase shortage.”

And according to wedding planner Latasha James, flowers aren’t the only product in short supply.

“There’s some food shortages,” said James. “So our meat markets are definitely being affected. And so that’s increasing cost. Some of our alcohol suppliers are having trouble because of the glass shortages. And so then that’s increasing your alcohol costs.”

So, if you’re in the middle of planning a Post-pandemic wedding, what can you do?

Rundberg says, use your resources wisely.

“if you’re getting married when local flowers are available, take full advantage,” Rundberg said.

And, be Flexible.

“Let your wedding vendors get creative, let them, you know, do their job for you and don’t stress out about it,” Rundberg said.

“Good communication, good patience, understanding that you’re not the only bride,” said James.

Check in with all your vendors and make sure they’re available for your new date.

If you need to choose new vendors, choose very carefully.

“Be careful for pop up, you know, people who are. . .trying to grab a buck, because they know that you’re desperate and you’re in need,”said James. “Wedding planning doesn’t have to be stressful if you surround yourself with the right people. They’re going to be your biggest cheerleaders, and then nothing else matters. You know you’re you’re married at the end of the day and love wins,” James said with a smile.

For Claire and Derek, all the tough decisions and moving of schedules, finally paid off.

“We ended up getting married on Sunday, May 16,” said Claire. “It was the best day ever. At the end of the day, like the small things really aren’t going to matter. And what’s important is your love and your marriage, and you’re spending the rest of your life with your partner.”

Employment

While Clair and Derek enjoyed their honeymoon, many of the rest of us started evaluating our lives and employment picture… or should have.

Lots of us ‘think’ we’re ready for the post-pandemic world, but some experts wonder if we know what we’re talking about.

Just as businesses survey workers on how to proceed with a return to the job site, experts say now’s the time for a “personal inventory”.

We talked to Katie Selman a while back, about working from home

“It encouraged me to do more projects at the house because now I feel like I didn’t resist being there,” Selman said.

But that needed the minute she got her COVID-19 vaccination.

Some businesses are rushing to get back where they were at the beginning of 2020.

“Now all of a sudden, HR departments are scrambling and policy attorneys are scrambling for policy and procedure to keep up with the lightspeed that we have moved into this new working realm,” said Danielle Corradino, human resources expert with the Corradino group.

While we’re on the subject, you may remember Dr. Anthony Klotz, the Texas A&M professor predicting a huge wave of resignations as people re-order their lives in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s a number of services out there, polling services not researchers like myself, that are that are conducting a lot of surveys right now about how employees are feeling ,” Klotz said.

Well, if that is the case, psychologists say, now is a good time to sit down and take stock of your life if you haven’t done so already.

“I look at these three things – like what do I need to accept in my life, what do I need to change, and what do I need to leave behind,” she said.

Psychotherapist Dr. Teralyn Sell, said some of us will have trouble adapting to the new normal.

“I remember the beginning of the pandemic…it was like moving a mountain to get people to work from home, and now we’re asked to push the mountain back exactly where it was before,” said Sell. “And I think that’s where some of the anxiety might be coming into play.”

Mental health experts call that kind of self-evaluation healthy and useful.

“I think it’s really important to take that personal inventory now,” said Sell. “Maybe because you don’t want to go back to what was so you need to inventory the things that are working for you what wasn’t working for you.”

You can make your transtion easier, by re-establishing some healthy habits now, said Sell.

“Now, making sure that you’re paying attention to waking up and going to bed at the same time, doing your personal hygiene, the way you were before,” said Sell. “All those things are micro habits, and once you do that you start stacking positive habits and I think that’s a really good place to start because as soon as you go back to work. All of your routine is going to be upset. One more time.”

Don’t try to be perfect right away and don’t set goals you know you’re not cut out for, like planning on 6 a.m. walks when you know you’re not a morning person, said Sell.

And when it comes to company surveys, speak your mind.

“Organizations today are all about data and making evidence based decisions, and so to the extent they can have data that shows what’s going on out there, I think is beneficial and obviously as researchers data are what we’re all about,” said Dr. Klotz.

Data which has begun to show, Klotz was onto something when he made his prediction.

And although she knows, not everyone may agree, Katie Selman said she’s glad to have an office again.

“I overdosed on home for sure. So it’s nice to be able to get out of the house,” Selman said while she laughed.

That’s looking on the bright side.





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