Many hard-pressed parents depend on afterschool programs to full the time gap between when school lets out and when parents and caregivers return home from their places of work. However, the overall Illinois labor shortage has led to severe difficulties faced by many Illinois school districts in hiring adequate numbers of afterschool staff for the 2022 fall semester.
As with all facets of life involving formal child care, a series of increasingly rigid mandates – aimed at protecting the health and safety of the children being cared for – has steadily reduced the flexibility of afterschool spaces. Persons with custody over children cannot simply be hired off the street; they have to go through background checks and, in some cases, must have formal credentials of various sorts. Afterschool spaces have to have a specific ratio of children per caregiver, and many parents of eligible children are learning there is not enough space and their child must go on a waiting list. One estimate states that during the 2021-22 school year, 24.5 million U.S. children were unable to access an afterschool program.