New survey results highlight Tri-State childcare needs

New survey results highlight Tri-State childcare needs

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - If your family lives in Vanderburgh or Warrick County and is looking for childcare, a new study suggests you are not alone.

The 2020 Early Childcare and Early Learning Survey, released Thursday from the Welborn Baptist Foundation, shows the percentage of families who need childcare in Vanderburgh and Warrick Counties is greater than the overall state average.

It is important to note the results from this survey were collected prior to the start of the coronavirus pandemic, but eight months later, childcare for families in the Tri-State continues to be a hot topic.

According to this survey, nearly nine out of 10 surveyed families in Vanderburgh and Warrick Counties depend on childcare.

“We, obviously, we didn’t plan it this way," Patrick Jackson, program officer with the Welborn Baptist Foundation said. "But it is fortuitous that we are able to release it at this time when childcare is receiving a lot of attention.”

Results show nearly 75% of families have searched for childcare at some point, mostly online. For many families, a big factor in determining childcare options was cost.

“On average," says Jackson, "childcare is about $8,000 a year in Indiana.”

The study cites a recommendation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that says families should not spend more than 7% of their income on childcare. This study, however, shows single-parent households could have to spend as much as 92% of their income on center-based childcare.

In addition to cost, Jackson says parents were also focused on aspects like reliability, staff qualifications and even nutritional availability during the day.

Laurie Seals is the Vice President of Early Childhood Services at Easterseals Early Learning Center. Seals says she knows those qualities have become even more important to parents during the coronavirus pandemic. Her center was able to keep its doors open, and welcome new children who really had nowhere else to go.

Because of that, Patrick Jackson with the Welborn Baptist Foundation says the results of this survey are not meant only for parents and providers, but also employers and community leaders, to make a real change in our area.

“This is something that impacts every employee," Jackson said. "So how can they impact what’s happening in the space?”

Families who took that survey were able to leave feedback and recommendations for childcare in both Vanderburgh and Warrick Counties. Jackson says organizers will look over the nearly 100 unique recommendations as they work to provide more options for families.

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