By NICK GOSNELL
HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Leaders from across the community are coming together to address the child care crisis in Reno County.
"We saw in 2020, a lot of providers close down," said Denice Gilliland-Burbank, community impact coordinator at United Way of Reno County. "We recently had a center close. We are very short on child care. We have come together as a group to try to solve this problem in our community with community resources that we already have."
This is clearly an economic development issue.
Our businesses have workforce that are experiencing problems finding child care," said Debra Teufel, president of the Hutch Chamber. "That creates an even greater workforce issue in the community than we already have. We talk to employers every day who have employees with absentee problems. You can't blame a family when they have a child that's in need of care and their child care center has either immediately closed, we had that happen in August, to one of our local centers, or just other, you know, other issues finding childcare, whether it's a home daycare that all of the sudden has one person that has COVID and then, they are in crisis, needing to find an alternative. There's a lot of angles of the reason this is an issue."
Because of the requirements from the state level for child care centers, getting one up and running is not an inexpensive proposition.
"It's our workforce today, but our kids are our workforce tomorrow," said Aubrey Abbott Patterson, president and CEO of Hutchinson Community Foundation. "That's our message when we're speaking to the community or to donors asking for their support, is that child care is critical to the success of our people and our community and our economy. We can rally people around a cause and help bring light to it and ask for support moving forward. This is not something that we're going to fix with small dollar amounts. It's something that is a system that's been broken for a while. We're now seeing the effects highlighted even more because of COVID."
There are plans going on behind the scenes to increase child care supply, but in order to do that, there needs to be a donation base. For the immediate need, the best place to donate is the United Way's K-Ready program. Call the United Way at 620-669-9359 for donation details.
Below is the Morning Show interview from October 13.