Accessible Child Care Affects Everyone- Not Just Parent and Caregivers
Child care has an impact on more than just children, parents and caregivers. High-quality child care keeps children safe and healthy, and helps children develop social, emotional, and communication skills. Accessible child care can increase opportunities for parents or guardians to pursue further education or participate in paid work to earn income and in some cases, gain health care and retirement benefits to support their families. However, it’s not only children, parents, and caregivers who benefit from childcare.
One out of three Adams County residents are 65 years old and older (U.S. Census Bureau, 2020). “Adams County is known as a desirable place to retire with the beautiful lakes and vast activities like campgrounds, golf courses, and places to dine. Without reliable child care, parents and caregivers may be faced with having to leave the workforce to care for their children, young children left home alone, or sending children to unregulated child care providers,” said Tina Smith, Foster Care Social Worker. Child care allows parents and caregivers the opportunity to keep their roles as health care professionals, law enforcement workers, restaurant employees, firefighters, and trades workers. Jerry Exterovich, of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s Office of Rural Prosperity, adds, “Consistent access to quality, regulated child care is paramount to the economic vitality of every region and can often be the primary factor limiting job creation and growth.”
There is a significant need for more child care in Adams County. Currently, there are only 8 regulated child care programs with a capacity to care for 127 children (Childcaring Inc.). There are 687 children ages birth to 5 years old in the county, leaving a shortfall of a minimum of 560 child care slots (U.S. Census Bureau, 2020). In addition, 67% of zip codes in Adams County are considered child care deserts so working parents and caregivers are driving great distances to take their children to child care (WI Dept of Children and Families Preschool Development).
In July 2021, Central Sands Childcare Alliance was formed to address this issue with a mission to meet the child care needs of all families by supporting and expanding quality child care and early childhood education across Adams County. Members from Childcaring, the Adams-Friendship School District, Health & Human Services, Extension Adams County, local businesses, and early childhood educators, along with assistance from the Office of Rural Prosperity are exploring options to develop sustainable childcare resources in the county and to raise awareness around the lack of regulated child care in the community.
To get involved or to learn more about the need for quality child care in Adams County, follow our social media campaign at Facebook.com/adamscountypublichealth or contact Childcaring: www.childcaring.org or 715-841-9490.
Addressing rural Wisconsin’s workforce challenges
The Workforce Innovation Grant (WIG) Program, with grant rounds announced in January and June 2022, aims to help communities throughout Wisconsin solve their most pressing workforce challenges by financially supporting collaborative, sustainable and innovative plans developed by regional organizations.