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Daycare 'a dying industry'? An operator says without government aid, shuttered centers will remain closed

Low pay for employees and high prices leave daycare facilities scrambling for help and clients

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Sofia Mado has been working in child daycare centers for 33-years. It started when her son was a child, and she didn’t care for the facilities she saw. 

So, she started one herself.

Today, she owns two facilities; Main Street Children’s Academy in Williamsville and Little Angels Daycare in Cheektowaga. Combined they have room for 150 children.

“Right now, we’re at maybe 50%...60%,” Mado said.

In order to fill slots at both facilities, Mado has been trying to get furloughed workers back on the job. It hasn’t been easy.

“People on unemployment are receiving pretty good benefits with the unemployment,”Mado said.

A reference to the soon-to-expire $600 a week pandemic unemployment benefit from the federal government. Over a 40 hour work week, that’s $15.00 an hour, and higher than some daycare jobs.

A search of daycare jobs within 50-miles of Buffalo on the website Indeed found 40 ads for daycare workers. The pay range for most of the vacancies was $11.80- $18.00 per hour.

“This is a very underpaid profession. We don’t have means to pay better. There are no fringe benefits in most facilities. There is no vacations or not sufficient vacations, but most of all there is a lack of proper pay,” Mado said. 

But while there is low pay for daycare workers, the price of the service can be crushingly high. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who was in Buffalo last week talking about the subject said, “A year of childcare in New York is often more expensive than a year of in-state college tuition.”

2 On-Your-Side found it would not be difficult in Western New York to spend more then $10,000 for a year’s worth of daycare for one child.

There is public assistance available for parents struggling to pay for daycare, but this all depends on being able to fund a facility with a slot open.

And as the area economy continues to reopen and the school year set to start in over a month, Mado said the only sure way shuttered daycare facilities come back is with some sort of state or federal assistance.

“There is absolutely no way we can survive in this industry with this economy without funds. We’re just a dying industry right now,” Mado said.

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