A recent study on the dearth of childcare options, either locally, areawide or statewide, gets a nod of confirmation from CareArc Childcare Specialist Jamie Roberts.
Earlier this month, Child Care Aware said Lyon County needs as many as 766 more childcare slots — or about a third of the county’s number of residents under age 6 — to meet the existing and potential demand. Since 2020, the number of childcare centers has dipped from eight to seven, while the number of school-age programs has increased from four to five. However, the number of license family or group childcare homes has dropped from 52 to 39.
Roberts says the dip in home provider numbers actually dates back at least five years.
Roberts says there has been a batch of retirements recently involving long-established providers. There have also been a number of providers going into other fields as their own children go to school.
One major concern for Roberts — as well as city leaders, who see childcare as a major issue in expanding the local economy — is the lack of fringe benefits attached to childcare.
Statewide, Child Care Aware says over 5,000 childcare slots have disappeared since 2017. Nearly 80 percent of Kansas counties, including all area counties, have at least 10 children under age 3 that are competing for every childcare space available — and in Coffey County’s case, the number is at least 40 children competing for one spot. Fifteen percent of childcare facilities have no slots for babies and toddlers.
Residents interested in setting up a childcare facility can call Roberts at 620-342-4864 for details. Roberts says grant funding is available to get providers started, as well as “sustainability” funding that offers monthly stipends to licensed providers.