The Penobscot Times

Old Town Recreation to close all child care programming

OLD TOWN, Maine — A combination of staffing issues and funding will shutter Old Town Recreation’s child care programs by the end of August, the director said.

Director Adam Mahaney said the organization has struggled to recruit and retain staff throughout the pandemic and is facing a number of financial burdens including $20,000 in required building repairs and delays in reimbursements from the state.

“We never shut down child care before because it was something we could offer,” he said. “But it’s to the point now where with staffing and the building modifications would have to take place — we have to look at the bigger picture.”

The combination of financial uncertainty and not enough staff to maintain staff ratios for children, the nonprofit was left with a difficult decision, Mahaney said.

“The number one issue we face is staffing. It dates back to when everything was shutting down in 2020,” Mahaney said. “When other employers offer college reimbursement, it’s tough to compete with them.”

Old Town Recreation tries to hire college-aged people who already have an interest in working with children, but since the onset of the pandemic, they have been difficult to come by, he said.

Adding to the difficulties the organization faces are a number of repairs and renovations to the main building, required to operate a childcare program, Mahaney said.

But, Old Town Recreation leases its building from the City of Old Town and isn’t in a position to ask the city to fund the repairs, he said.

Old Town Recreation is housed in an old elementary school, the same one Mahaney went to when he was younger, but the combination of not enough staffing and the pricey repairs, it just doesn’t make sense to continue offering childcare, he said.

To add to the financial uncertainty, Mahaney said reimbursements from the state for subsidized child care are also coming in slower, making it more difficult to project finances accordingly.

“There are some situations where you can wait three to four weeks for payments from the state,” he said. “We generally ask parents to pay by the end of the week prior.”

While all child care programs will not be happening, Old Town Recreation will focus on developing and refining its sports offerings and community offerings, Mahaney said.
“Our sports programs have grown over the last seven year and are continuing too. This will allow us to take more time to focus on that aspect.”

For those looking for alternative child care, the state of Maine has an online search tool which can be found here.

The last day of the current child care program is Aug. 27.

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