By Amy Wadas

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Finding child care is a problem some employees in the area are facing as they prepare to head back to the office full-time.

A local mother told KDKA’s Amy Wadas that she’s scrambling to find a place for her 5-year-old son to go after she was notified that she’ll have to go back to work sooner than she expected.

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“We received an email that gave us two weeks’ notice to return to the office, with a return office date of July 26,” said the mom.

The email this mom is referencing was sent to county directors on Monday by County Manager William McKain.

“I don’t believe two weeks is enough time for the numerous county employees to arrange for appropriate child care,” the mom said. “My child, in particular, has been on a waitlist since December and others since May.”

Vanessa Brown, the owner of Chatterbox Daycare Center, said waitlists are common for child care centers these days.

“We can’t get enough staff to house the children. We have openings, but we don’t have the staff,” Brown said.

“We can’t have too many children and not enough adult staff, so that creates our waiting lists,” Brown added.

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Brown said she’s constantly being inundated with phone calls from parents who don’t know where to turn. She even had to cut back operating hours. But the owner is hopeful things change once kids head back to school in September.

However, for some, they need the help now.

“I am planning to exhaust all my allotted vacation and sick time. Work half-days,” said the mom.

A county spokesperson released a statement, saying:

“The vast majority of our staff (about 80%) did not work from home because their jobs do not allow for that option. Throughout the pandemic, employees from the top down have been at work. Clearly, county government did not shut down and all of our offices remained opening and functioning.

“For those employees who had the opportunity to work from home periodically or had jobs that take them out of the office on an ongoing basis, flexibility was granted so that they were not required to be in the office full-time. The county also went above and beyond in offering paid leave during the pandemic. Last year, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) required that 10 days of paid leave be provided for employees affected by the pandemic. The county provided 14 days. That benefit is no longer required for 2021, but through the end of July, the county has offered 10 days of paid leave for employees affected by the pandemic.

“While the system-wide announcement about the return to the office on a full-time basis for those remaining 20% of employees (many of whom have already returned) was just sent out, the department directors have been given periodic updates in writing and via meetings and were provided information going back several months to advise those impacted employees to begin planning for this full return to the office. Any accommodation made for flexibility was always clearly noted as a temporary accommodation.

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“The communication was sent yesterday (Monday) to the directors. The directors have the responsibility of communicating information to their employees.”