Wabash Valley Has Strength in Child Care | News

Compared to the rest of the state, Terre Haute and Vigo County fall somewhere in the middle of the pack when it comes to child care.

The region is strong in terms of the availability of facilities for infants and toddlers and is not bad in terms of high quality childcare, but it does have pockets – known as “custody deserts.” children “- where children in need of care far outnumber the available providers.

Accessibility of child care was a concern in the region before COVID-19 swept across the state, nation and planet. The pandemic has done little to improve the situation.

“In Vigo County, there are currently 209 child care spaces, which shows that 90% of available spaces are used,” said Marni Lemons of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration.

It’s not all bad news, however: “The total number of children in child care in our state has increased 8.42% since April 2021,” she said.

“Open teaching positions have fallen 9.8% since April. “

Additionally, “Vigo County has received $ 2,718,543 in stabilization funds to date,” Lemons said. “These funds should be used locally to help build the capacity and access of families. “

“One of the needs not only here in Vigo County, but in many parts of the state, is non-traditional care hours,” said Kristi Burkhart, Program Engagement Specialist at Chances and Services for Youth, which helps between 60 and 70 families per year. months in her search for childcare. “We have a lot of industrial work, a lot of second shift work and few childcare options for these children.”

The eastern and southern sides of the city are the most in need of additional services. “We see staffing issues across child care centers, as do many of our businesses,” Burkhart said. “Unfortunately, what happens in child care is that if you are understaffed, you will not be able to meet the ratios and take care of so many children. There is a slight slowdown in the opening of new programs. This is the biggest impact we’ve seen since COVID and we’ve had a few closures due to COVID. “

CASY’s community engagement specialist Kati Colvin agreed. “There are so many jobs available right now and rising wage rates are affecting what child care providers can pay for their staff,” Colvin said. “We are seeing people move from the child care industry to other industries. “

In Vigo County, 4,963 are in need of child care, Colvin reported, and currently 2,816 can be served.

Child care centers are rated by the state on a scale from Level 1 to Level 4. Level 1 programs meet all basic health and safety standards and have voluntarily chosen to be part of Paths to QUALITY. This means that they care about providing quality early care and education.

Level 2 programs have demonstrated a commitment to improving their quality, providing environments that support children’s growth, development and learning. Level 2 programs will have proof of a consistent daily schedule and planned activities for children.

Level 3 programs implement a curriculum that supports children’s learning and readiness for school. Level 3 programs have made a significant investment in the professional development of their staff, and they incorporate the contribution of family and staff into their program.

Level 4 programs are the top rated programs and have demonstrated a commitment to the highest level of professionalism in quality early childhood care and education – obtaining accreditation recognized across national.

Dorothy Chambers of the Wabash Valley United Way Community Impact Staff noted that Sullivan County currently has no high quality child care centers (one recently closed). She recently participated in the awarding of a $ 100,000 grant from Early Learning Indiana to Nurture with Nature: Highland Church Childcare Ministry, to open on the east side of Terre Haute.

Nurture with Nature’s Dawn Langer runs four facilities as businesses; Highland Church ministry will be its first nonprofit. Three of its facilities are on level 4, the other on level 3.

“Dawn Langer has decades of experience delivering Level 3 quality,” Chambers said. “We could bear to use more with its quality level.”

Langer’s reputation is so strong that she received a grant simply for showing the land she wanted to build her facility on.

The levels are determined by educational standards and environmental standards, Langer said. “Teachers are observed interacting with children” by state officials, she said.

Its new Highland Church effort will be housed in a large building in Seelyville, an area where strong growth is expected – and, therefore, a need for child care. “This will be the only high-quality ministry daycare in Vigo County,” she said. She expects it to serve 65 to 70 children in four different classes – infants, 2-year-olds, preschool, and before and after school.

“This will help add a lot of income to my church,” Langer said.

The need for child care increases throughout the calendar year. “You would think that fall, with the start of the school year, would be the most popular time for daycares, but spring and daycares have seen a huge influx,” Langer said. “Our waiting list is growing day by day.

Before the pandemic, the average monthly child care center costs in Indiana were $ 798. This rose 17% to $ 934 during the COVID-19 shutdown. Parents who need help with childcare costs can apply for help from the Child Care and Development Fund at www.in.gov/fssa/carefinder/child- care-assistance.

David Kronke can be reached at 812-231-4232 or [email protected]

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