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By Dr. Jenn Eldridge and Crystal Murr, University of Missouri Extension
You are hearing in the news that people don’t want to work. You may have also heard about the nationwide childcare shortage. Is it possible that adults are quitting jobs/not returning to work during the pandemic due to lack of childcare options? Is it also possible that our population is decreasing due to lack of childcare options?
The closing of a daycare in Knox County last year left a gaping hole in the already drastic lack of childcare in Knox County. This stimulated the University of Missouri Extension office here in Edina to partner with volunteers to form a group concerned about the lack of childcare in Knox County. This group conducted a community survey to find out just how many kids need care. The survey received 46 responses and reported that 87 kids in this county who need childcare. Eighteen of them are 0-23 months old, 23 of them are 2-3 years old, 17 of them are 4-5 years old and 18 are 6 years or older. Twenty-one parents said they needed afterschool care and 38 said they needed full day care.
4-year-old child. Single mom works full-time; Child attends Head Start (8 a.m. – 12 p.m.); Bussed to Preschool (12 – 3 p.m.) Bussed to daycare (3 -5 p.m.) Head Start is not open on Fridays and closed frequently on Mondays for training. Daycare closes and there is a waiting list at surrounding daycares.
8-year-old child. Two full-time working parents, one of whom works out of town. School-age child is bussed to grandparent’s house after school. Child is left unattended until an adult gets off work. An afterschool program would allow the child to remain at school until someone is available to pick them up.
Young couple lives and works in Knox County. They want to start a family, but they are hesitant due to the lack of openings for infant childcare. They put their name on several daycare waiting lists, but there are 26 children in front of them. After a couple of years, they decide to relocate to a larger community due to the lack of childcare in the area.
Lack of childcare is a huge issue affecting families today. There is also a shortage of options for school and summer school vacations, inclement weather days, etc. Some have found solutions to this shortage with grandparents or extended family, however for some folks this is not option for a variety of reasons. Without childcare, parents have to quit their jobs and they are more likely to move to find consistent, affordable childcare. And, for parents who both need to work, not having access to childcare is a reason to frankly not have children to begin with.
To thrive and grow we need babies and therefore we need folks who are willing to care for them. Do you know someone who would like to start an in-home daycare? If so, Knox County needs them. There is money available through several stimulus programs for folks who want to start or expand in-home daycares. If you have ever thought about taking in children and having an in-home daycare, now is a great time to do it.
Please stop by or contact the University of Missouri Extension office here in Edina on the East side of the square to learn more about the grants that are available and how you can apply for them to help Knox County grow. ph# 660-397-2179. If you would like to join this group of concerned Knox County citizens or would like to share your own concerns, please give us a call, as well.