By NICK GOSNELL
HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Denice Gilliland-Burbank with the United Way highlighted the work of the K-Ready Coalition in looking into the childcare needs in Hutchinson and Reno County.
"The K-Ready Coalition has been part of the community for about eight years now," Gilliland-Burbank said. "It was started by the United Way. They brought leaders in the industry together and said, what do we need to do to get kids ready for kindergarten? What started as developing a checklist that all the districts could agree on that said, this is what we need for kindergarteners when they start school to be successful has really turned into us looking at the childcare system locally and looking at ways that we can develop local resources."
Child care capacity and affordability is in the City's Comprehensive Plan. City Council member Jade Piros de Carvalho noted that her family had to take extreme measures to get childcare for her daughter when she was an infant. Fortunately, there was a new center opening at the time of her pregnancy in 2017 at Our Redeemer Early Learning Center.
"I knew that there were only nine coveted spots," Piros de Carvalho said. "Without grandparents at the helm, or really, that village around me, I had to get one of those spots. We took some pretty extreme measures. They had a first come, first served enrollment. My husband stood outside at 3 a.m. in January, so we could be first in line and we were very lucky to secure a spot."
The disruptions caused by COVID made clear that much of the workforce could have childcare needs that are latent and typically covered by K-12, but also that those prior to that are dealing with it, too.
"It's the long-term benefits to society of having really high-quality early childhood care are extensive," Piros de Carvalho said. "You do save on the other side of the equation, right? You save on the criminal justice side. You save on the civil services side. It really is in the best economic interest of everyone, regardless of whether or not they have children, to care about these issues."
Below is the full interview with Piros de Carvalho and Gilliland-Burbank...