Miami County to spend $340K to aid child care expansion

A preschooler gets up on her toes to reach into her assigned cubby at a preschool center Monday, Oct. 25, 2021, in Mountlake Terrace, Wash. Child care centers once operated under the promise that it would always be there when parents have to work. Now, each teacher resignation, coronavirus exposure, and day care center closure reveals an industry on the brink, with wide-reaching implications for an entire economy's workforce. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

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A preschooler gets up on her toes to reach into her assigned cubby at a preschool center Monday, Oct. 25, 2021, in Mountlake Terrace, Wash. Child care centers once operated under the promise that it would always be there when parents have to work. Now, each teacher resignation, coronavirus exposure, and day care center closure reveals an industry on the brink, with wide-reaching implications for an entire economy's workforce. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Miami County will pay more than $340,000 to an organization to provide resources for existing and future child care centers and home programs to help meet child care needs, a barrier cited frequently in workforce development discussions.

Miami County commissioners recently approved an agreement with 4C for Children of Dayton that will run through Dec. 31, 2023.

A group from the across the county including representatives of communities and foundations has met to talk about the “glaring need” for child care in the county, County Administrator Charlotte Colley said.

“We do not have enough available publicly funded spots for child care with providers with correct licenses through the state. 4C for Children will work with current and future child care providers either in homes or in centers to help them get the training, education and resources they need to maintain and expand programs and get higher certifications,” she said.

The agreement is designed to make more care available along with improving quality of some of the existing care, Colley said.

The money will come from the county’s American Rescue Plan Act funding and will be used only in Miami County, she said.

The commissioners “believe this investment will help our workforce development activities,” said Commissioner Wade Westfall.

The need for more child care for people at all income levels often comes up in discussions about workforce and employers ongoing need to find more employees.

“There was a shortage in available child care before the pandemic, but it has intensified,” said Lisa Babb, senior strategic director, program operations for 4C for Children of Dayton.

Among those involved in the local child care discussions has been representatives of the Troy Foundation. Child care and transportation led the list of pressing needs in Troy in a community needs assessment the foundation had conducted. It later set aside $260,000 for a priority needs fund to be used to address those top needs.

The 4C for Children contract is for two years. At a minimum the organization said it will develop nine new programs — six in homes and three centers.

The programs will be established with training covering start up, training for employees, educational materials and equipment if needed, such as cribs, furniture, safety equipment and technology for reporting. Steps also are planned to help existing programs grow, all to help increase the number of available child care spots.

4C for Children will work with a number of partners, Babb said.

Among those will be existing businesses, libraries, churches, schools and school organizations such as PTAs, unlicensed child care provider Facebook groups and the county Department of Job and Family Services. Colley said the county’s Child Care Choices nonprofit also will be involved.

Babb said 4C for Children has a standard model that it uses to support child care efforts in counties, cities and projects with the model adjusted to meet each area’s specific needs. Some of those communities also are using federal ARPA funds, while others are privately funded.

In a statement of work, 4C for Children said the county currently has 13 quality-rated child care centers and one family child care program with contracts to serve children from low-income families who receive public child care dollars. Another 10 licensed child care programs do not have publicly funded child care agreements.

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com

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