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Rural Illinois County Takes on Child Care Shortage Crisis

Welcome sign for Crawford County

Crawford County IL is taking steps to support existing child care and create new spaces.

Crawford County, Illinois takes action to support child care providers, add new options, and create lasting community success.

In speaking with our business and community leaders, I learned that child care was a rising priority that was impacting outcomes for all parts of our community.”
— Resa Shaner, Executive Director
ROBINSON, IL, UNITED STATES, October 3, 2022 /EINPresswire.com/ -- As child care challenges mount across the nation and hamper workforce participation, some rural communities are taking matters into their own hands. Crawford County in Illinois is home to operations of three Fortune 500 companies and is also one such community where child care options don’t currently meet the crucial demand. Now, thanks to a new program in place, the community will add new child care slots while bolstering its current child care providers and creating new infrastructure to support child care in the future.

With a local waiting list of sometimes up to a year for child care, Crawford County officials knew time was of the essence. “The solution to the child care shortage was obvious: add more child care. It was the lack of knowing how to proceed that hindered our progress,” explains David Fulling, Crawford County Board Chairman.

Leading the charge is Resa Shaner, Executive Director of the Crawford County Development Association. “In speaking with our business and community leaders, I learned that child care was a rising priority that was impacting outcomes for all parts of our community.” said Shaner. “We wanted to find a partner that could help us navigate this complex challenge.”

That partner ended up being Business of Child Care. The company implemented its “Whole Community Approach” that is successful in bringing local stakeholders together to define better outcomes that support existing child care providers and are intentional about creating new child care options. The program has garnered financial support and commitments from all aspects of the community, from local businesses to county government to local education leaders.

Importantly, the program is not meant to replace established resources but rather to lift them up. “A critical element of this process is making sure we recognize, support and maximize existing child care operators before adding anything new,” explains Jeff Andrews, President of Business of Child Care. The program will offer business support to existing local child care businesses and they will also be eligible for community-funded supporting grants for their program and offerings.

After ensuring existing child care businesses are recognized and resourced, the effort is intentional about building new capacity. In this case, the solution is Crawford County for Kids, a new non-profit organization that will focus on underserved needs in the area. This includes supporting 14 new family child care business openings with incentives in areas throughout the county that are “child care deserts”, having little or no child care offerings today.

It will also lead efforts to launch a new building that will host a child care center that will offer over 150 new slots for infants through school-age children, with a focus on accommodating 2nd shift schedules as well as other micro-needs in the community. In addition to child care, the building will provide early childhood program resources for child care professionals and family support services. The center is scheduled to open in 2023.

To Andrews, Crawford County, Illinois is a great example of what can happen when a community is ready and willing to look at different ways of approaching their issues. “Rural communities need to take on the task of solution building themselves because they simply can’t wait for other resources or support,” Andrews says. “And bringing the whole community – civic leaders, business leaders, education leaders – into the mix is what makes the initiative uniquely local to better support local child care professionals, and ultimately produces better outcomes for our kids.”

Board Chairman Fulling agrees. “In my opinion, child care is one of the fundamental building blocks of a working society. The knowledge of how to proceed and the combined effort of all our local governments and all levels of business is what made this goal achievable,” he adds. “It will put child care on a track that we can measure and see progress going forward.”

Jeff Andrews
Business of Child Care
+1 844-444-5602
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