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An Upper Valley company is now offering free child care for employees

Courtesy DDA604 via Flickr/Creative Commons.

New Hampshire’s child care shortage has grown during the pandemic, and the current labor shortage has made it challenging for centers to find staff.

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According to UNH, there’s been a 12 percent loss in child care providers in the Upper Valley in the past five years.

Woodrow Fitness owns River Valley Club and FitKids in Lebanon is offering free childcare for qualified employees in hopes of recruiting and retaining workers. The company previously offered a 50 percent discount.

Maria Dantos, director of FitKids, says she’s hoping to hire at least 10 more teachers, and she’s already seen an uptick in applications since the change was announced in February, “primarily from mothers and fathers” who haven’t been able to join or re-enter the workforce because of their own childcare concerns.

Dantos said Woodrow Fitness’ effort “bridges that gap.”

A 2021 analysis from the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute indicated that a lack of childcare had a big impact on the state’s labor shortage, and that even pre-pandemic levels of childcare didn’t meet the need in New Hampshire.

“When we have more quality teachers, we're able to provide more care for the community, which has a domino effect of supporting the community at large,” Dantos said.

Right now, FitKids has 140 children enrolled but is licensed to care for up to 188 in one location, and the organization has plans to expand its capacity.

Daniela is an editor in NHPR's newsroom. She leads NHPR's Spanish language news initiative, ¿Qué Hay de Nuevo, New Hampshire? and the station's climate change reporting project, By Degrees. You can email her at

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