Childcare and workforce matters are among the issues of note for Republican gubernatorial candidate Derek Schmidt and his running mate.
Katie Sawyer made a stop at the KVOE studios on Friday as part of a swing across eastern Kansas. Sawyer says childcare availability — or lack of it — is something her family has experienced firsthand after her provider left childcare during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sawyer credited companies like Simmons, which is in the process of turning the former Maynard Early Childhood into a 24-7 childcare facility for its employees, for being proactive in addressing the concerns of their workers and she says a step like that can have a positive domino effect in a given community.
Emporia civic leaders have been working to expand childcare availability for about three years now, and that process continues in light of a Child Care Aware study this past May that 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 licensed family or group childcare homes has dropped from 52 to 39.
Sawyer says state government can help by reducing regulations that may keep people from getting into childcare in the first place.