Four hundred. This is the number of children aged six weeks to 3 years old who need childcare in Addison County but currently do not have any. That means approximately 400 families are struggling to find the childcare they need to show up for their job or go to school consistently. 400 of our youngest neighbors aren't receiving the high-quality care to help them develop.
How did this happen? This gap in services is due to both capacity and space. According to our childcare funded partners, this field has been significantly underfunded for years, and the current funding model does not fully cover the cost of salaries, cost of living adjustments, professional development needs, increased program costs, and services needed to provide high-quality childcare experiences. The lack of funds is contributing to a decrease in the childcare workforce and creating more barriers for folks to enter or continue in the field. Would you stay in a field that has underappreciated your value and work? For many, the answer to that question is yes because they love their job and the kiddos in their community. Luckily, we have dedicated childcare staff who are doing this hard and amazing work with our children and future generations. They give our children the skills to connect with others, learn, and find their voice in this world. They do this work because they care about children and families in Addison County. (Remember to thank your childcare provider and recognize their hard work!)
But I do not have kids - how does this impact me? Have you had to take an extra shift/tasks at work because a co-worker had to stay home because of childcare issues? Have you had a vacancy in your company because it has been hard to find new staff? The lack of childcare capacity creates a ripple effect, and families who cannot obtain childcare in their community are a challenge for residents to stay in Addison County or for new families to move here.
Why don't we just build more childcare facilities or add on to the existing facilities? Space is another barrier to increasing capacity in the area, as existing organizations cannot expand physical space and create new spots. This is due to both the workforce shortage within the field, but also the high cost of property in the community. (Another reason you may have vacancies within your company could be due to a shortage of housing that is appropriate for families in the area, limited childcare, and/or long commutes...but we can talk about that another day!).
So what are we going to do about this? Great question! Our childcare agencies and supporting organizations have come together to provide feedback and their concerns to our local representatives, who brought it forth to the Governor. For more information about high-quality and affordable childcare, please visit the Let's Grow Kids website.
United Way of Addison County believes that high-quality childcare is a foundational and crucial component of a healthy and thriving community! We are proud of our funded partners providing high-quality childcare and helping to shape the future generation!
#Childcare #Workforce #Advocacy #UWAC