Parents in Albemarle County who want to put their children in after-school care programs face a mad dash to reserve a spot in the division’s Extended Day Enrichment Program, and the pattern looks unlikely to break anytime soon.

Of the county’s after-school programs at 15 schools, 13 are at capacity, said division spokesman Phil Giaramita. Only Stony Point and Red Hill elementaries have spaces left, he said, and there are 180 students on waiting lists for a space at one of the other 13 schools.

For Brigid Jackson, a single mother of three who moved to Albemarle two and a half years ago, child care after school hours is an ongoing challenge.

“We moved here in the spring and there were no options,” she said. “Anything past little kids, there were no options.”

Fellow parent Kerri Vernon had similar trouble after a move from the Brownsville Elementary district to the Crozet Elementary district, but eventually got her daughter into a program at Commonwealth Christian Community.

This year, Vernon said, she was “barely” able to get her daughter placed in the county’s program.

“Only because I set an alert on my phone to remind me every day to sign up,” she said.

The problem, said EDEP Coordinator Kelvin Reid, is making sure the programs are adequately staffed. The positions are part-time and experience high turnover, because staff often are licensed teachers who end up leaving to take full-time classroom jobs.

The county requires that staff have a degree in teaching or child care, Reid said.

“It has been a challenge to hire staff and retain them,” Reid said. “Our reality is that we hire a number of people and then they are hired to be classroom teachers, which is great because it means we are hiring quality staff.”

Those staff who do not have teaching certificates or who do not want to work in traditional classrooms often leave because they can make more money in the private sector, Reid said. The county’s EDEP positions are 20 hours a week, but workers can easily get 40 hours in private day cares, he said.

Private caregivers in the area also largely report being at capacity. At Bright Beginnings in Crozet, which primarily caters to day programs for 3- and 4-year-olds, staff and physical space are limiting.

“We have some space to do after-school care, but we have to let the parents know their children will be placed in with the pre-K kids,” said Sue Sims, Bright Beginnings’ program director.

The Piedmont YMCA in Crozet soon will be opening a child care facility. The program, which is expected to open within the month, should bring some relief to the demand for child care.

Once open, the YMCA will be able to take 29 students from the Crozet area, said Brookes Sims, senior program director. The program will cost $85 per month for Y members and $100 per month for non-members after a $50 registration fee, Sims said.

The county EDEP program costs $10.50 a day.

Still, Sims said she gets at least two calls a day inquiring about services, and maintains a growing email list. When the facility opens, she said she expects it to fill quickly.

“Our maximum is 29 kids,” she said. “Our summer camp only holds 34 kids, and each year we have a waiting list.”

Jackson said she has found one workaround: parents with students entering kindergarten can register their children for EDEP when they register for kindergarten. After that, it is a matter of lining up early in the week that program registration opens.

This year, Jackson said, she was very nearly left high and dry when registering her second-grade daughter.

“I showed up on Friday of the first week [registration was open], and there were already grades that had capped,” she said. “There were five second-grade seats available, and two were gone in the time that I was there.”

The county EDEP program currently has 11 open staff positions, Reid said, and listings on the county schools’ job page are rarely, if ever, taken down.

“We are actively looking for staff, so if there is anyone interested, we encourage you to fill out an application,” he said.