Before- and after-school child care programs at about two dozen Prince William County schools won’t open when the school year begins Aug. 23 because of “unprecedented” staffing shortages.
AlphaBEST Education Inc., a national company that provides the child care services through a contract with the school division, says the situation will affect 352 students and their families.
“Like all other employers in our field – and many other industries – we are experiencing an unprecedented shortage in applicants, both in PWC and nationally,” AlphaBEST Chief Executive Officer Judy Nee said in an email. “In our 16 years in business, we have never seen an employment market like this one.”
The company began serving Prince William schools in 2015 and that year hired over 300 employees between the spring and the opening of schools, Nee added.
“In every year since then, we have opened in every school on time for the school year. This is truly unprecedented and out of our control.”
Nee said services will not begin on the first day of school at all seven of the middle schools that AlphaBEST serves, along with 16 or 17 of the 63 elementary schools where it provides services.
To attract applicants, AlphaBEST is offering $1,000 hiring bonuses and hosting weekly open hiring events. The company also held a virtual job fair, offered staff bonuses of $100 to $500 for referrals, advertised to parents for part-time work, including free childcare, and posted flyers at local businesses and unemployment offices.
Nee told InsideNoVa that three applicants who had interviews scheduled Monday were all no-shows.
“We sent a reminder text and email to these applicants on Friday. We have four scheduled interviews for this week, and we had one resignation this morning. We have brought in additional help this week from our North Carolina office to assist with recruitment,” she added.
AlphaBEST expects to serve 1,947 families on the first day of school. But at least 352 will be faced with finding other child-care arrangements at the last minute.
The delayed-opening schools include:
- Benton Middle
- Bull Run Middle
- Hampton Middle
- Parkside Middle
- Potomac Middle
- Reagan Middle
- Woodbridge Middle
- Belmont Elementary
- Buckland Mills Elementary
- Dumfries Elementary
- Ellis Elementary
- Enterprise Elementary
- Glenkirk Elementary
- Haymarket Elementary
- Kerrydale Elementary
- King Elementary
- Kyle Wilson Elementary
- Marumsco Hills Elementary
- Neabsco Elementary
- River Oaks Elementary
- Sudley Elementary
- Triangle Elementary
- Vaughn Elementary
- Yorkshire Elementary
Nee said each school program will open as soon as the required minimum of two staff members are hired and placed at the site. AlphaBEST has contacted all impacted families, she said.