(WTNH) – The childcare center in New London which is run by the TVCCA has had to close classrooms due to staffing shortages. It’s a scene repeated throughout the state.

“I have co-workers whose children are on waiting lists. Daycare centers that have closed down for the day,” said Tim Furman of Waterford.

He has four kids under six years old and said he’s fortunate to have family and flexible work schedules to avoid the challenge of finding daycare and affording it.

“The average cost in Connecticut is about $16,000,” said Merrill Gay, Executive Director of the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance.

A new study by the Connecticut Association of Human Services (CAHS) found public and private childcare centers in the state are serving 24,000 fewer children than they were before the pandemic and enrollment is at about 75% capacity as of April.

“It’s very troubling to see,” said Liz Fraser of the Connecticut Association of Human Services.

She authored the study and says this is due in large part to staffing shortages which force daycares to put a cap on enrollment to comply with state-mandated teacher-child ratios.

“If you can go to any retail establishment or restaurant and earn more money, then what is the draw for working in early childhood development where you need to get a degree,” said Fraser.

CAHS says state and federal funding could help the situation by providing subsidies to families so they can better afford to pay for daycare and then in turn the centers may be able to better afford to pay their staff more money.

“It might be a plan over a series of years to increase funding to the point where no parent pays more than 7 percent of their income,” said Fraser.

“I couldn’t imagine that we’d be able to absorb the cost of childcare for four kids,” said Furman.

For those who don’t have family and friends who can help out, it may continue to be a struggle to find care for their kids.