BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) – The Bedford Area YMCA is building a new child care center that will accept children up to age five. It comes as Bedford County is facing a shortage of child care options.
Heather Dooley is a mom of two boys in Bedford County. She explained how the lack of options is putting a strain on parents.
“It adds a lot of stress to families,” Dooley said. “And especially the mom, who then has to rearrange her entire schedule.”
Because of child care shortages, Dooley’s three-year-old goes to daycare in Bedford County at the YMCA and her eight-month-baby goes to a center in Lynchburg.
“If I have days where I have Bedford meetings, or I’m going somewhere other than Lynchburg, I have to drive thirty minutes to get them to daycare just to get back to what you need to do,” Dooley said.
A committee of the Bedford Area Resource Council is working to address the shortage needs in town. A child care survey from last year showed 108 families are on a waitlist for childcare, 117 families cannot afford it and 103 say location is an issue.
The CEO of the Bedford Area YMCA explained how the future daycare center will help address a critical need in the community.
“In a small town like this, a lot of families work in a bigger city and pass by the YMCA everyday on the way to work,” Mary Jo Boone said. “There really has been no preschool aged childcare in this community for a very long time.”
The Chair of the Bedford Area Resource Council explained the shortage is leaving families with kids under five years old limited options.
“In Bedford County right now, we only have three licensed centers,” Holly Layne said. “Two of those are in the Forest area with very long waiting lists, so parents aren’t able to even find a spot.”
Families are going to private daycares, asking relatives for help or choosing to stay home.
“Not everybody can afford staying home because stuff is expensive, and you’ve got to be able to work,” Dooley said.
The new daycare center will accept 60 children once it’s open.
“There are already people calling us saying, ‘Can we get on a waitlist for that building,’” Boone said. “It might still be six months away that we even have the building built.”
Boone hopes to see the new daycare center up and running within the next year, but there is no set completion date.
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