Head Start programs expect to lose more staff to vaccine mandates
Programs like Southeastern North Dakota Community Action Agency to take another blow with federal vaccine mandate deadline approaching.
FARGO — More than 100 Minot children will lose their spot in the Head Start program after they were forced to let 18% of the center's staff go due to vaccine requirements.
Now, Southeastern North Dakota Community Action Agency (SENDCAA) in Fargo is expected to lose staff as well, as it's also a federally funded program.
When the mandate deadline hits, the center will likely lose fewer than 10 staff, but it will still shake things up.
The center will, at that point, have 15 openings — positions that are vital to its operation.
"As a program having 15 staff openings, that's huge," said Lindsey Burkhardt, the Project Director at SENDCAA. "It has a huge impact on your day-to-day operations and how you're able to function."
It's a culmination of the difficulties they've faced throughout the pandemic. And because of their current staffing shortage, they are able to take on 74 fewer kids than usual.
If something goes wrong, things only get harder, and shows that the mandate is just another hurdle they'll have to figure out.
"So when we have an employee that calls in sick, and we think about the trickle effect of that, like, we still need to find coverage for that classroom, so those kiddos can come. So it's this whole, like list of impacts," said Burkhardt.
Included in that list are pandemic fears, stress, and exhaustion.
Burkhardt herself is even resigning, not because of the mandates, but because she is tired, overworked and has three little girls at home that need their mom to be the best that she can be.