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Day Care As An Economic Development Tool

By Paul Wolf:

There continues to be a great deal of discussion about encouraging economic development in Western New York. Day care services play an important role in the ability of mothers and families to work.

According to the U.S. Census more than 70 percent of mothers with children under age six are in the workforce, and more than half of them use child care. Families spend between nine and 25 percent of their annual income on child care, according to census estimates. Low-income parents spend the largest percentage of income on child care or are forced to seek care in informal settings.

According to a 2006 survey of New York State economic development officials conducted by Cornell University:

• 83% agree that childcare should be a part of economic development policy.
• 82% recognize that a lack of affordable, quality, convenient child care reduces worker productivity.
• 67% feel that businesses’ ability to attract and retain workers is hurt by lack of quality child care.
• 58% acknowledge an inadequate supply of quality child care in their community.

The Buffalo News had an article recently about an interesting Niagara County organization called Community Child Care Clearinghouse. The clearinghouse, assists prospective and current child care providers in obtaining and maintaining child care licenses. Training is provided on site and by video conference to assist child care providers.

The clearinghouse, has a database of 171 child care providers and services, and operates a referral service that links parents with a variety of child care and summer programs within a one-to two-mile radius. The hotline yields more than 300 calls a year, and the referrals also generate business for day care providers. There is a need for 24-hour day care centers, and few centers have extended hours. In addition, nontraditional hours of care are needed because a lot of parents work later shifts.

Working parents need day care in order to remain employed and being a day care provider is a great business that someone can start in their own home. Organizations such as the Community Child Care Clearinghouse can play an important role in providing a needed service and in growing entrepreneurs.

Should day care be viewed as an economic development tool that deserves greater attention?

Written by Buffalo Rising

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