Wherever you live in Kansas, a lack of affordable, quality child care is affecting your community.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as many as 100,000 Americans have been forced to stay home from work each month because of child care problems. This causes additional strain on already overtaxed and struggling employers, employees, and families.
As we move into a new year, communities all over Kansas are working to implement local solutions to the child care crisis. How can your community partner to expand local child care capacity in 2024?
Starting with One
Every community is unique, which means there is no cookie-cutter solution or checklist to follow. But no matter what your community is like, you’ll need at least one champion of change — a person interested in new or different ways of doing things and determined to make change happen. It takes just one individual to launch an initiative to increase child care capacity. You might be that person. Or you might know someone who has the time, energy, and passion to take the lead.
Creating a Coalition
After the spark for change has been ignited, it’s time to gather stakeholders. Community change can’t occur without support from the people who make up the community. Stakeholders may include child care professionals, parents, local government leaders, economic development experts, or local industry and business leaders — essentially anyone with an interest in becoming part of a solution to the crisis in child care and workforce participation. This newly formed or growing community-led coalition should seek out and lean on the available resources in order to achieve long-term success.
Relying on Resources
What resources are available in 2024 for communities wanting to launch a child care capacity-building effort? Fortunately, there are many organizations in Kansas and across the country that have missions related to child care.
Child Care Aware of Kansas partners with communities to offer support for a high-quality early childhood care and education system. Your community coalition can find personalized support and partnership through our Community Outreach and Engagement team. You can also explore up-to-date data about the state of child care in your community.
Our staff can help your coalition write short- and long-term goals and develop a community-driven strategic plan to build sustainable, affordable, and quality child care to suit your community’s unique needs. We can also guide employers interested in implementing more family-friendly workplace policies.
Child Care Aware of Kansas is also part of the state’s Child Care Go Team, which is focused on removing barriers that communities face when working to increase their child care capacity. The Go Team has put together a toolkit to address zoning issues, which will be available for communities to access in the coming months.
Although it’s a nationwide crisis, the child care shortage can only be solved by dedicated community members who become champions for change at the local and state levels. Many Kansas communities are already implementing solutions, and you can follow their lead. Contact Child Care Aware of Kansas to connect with other community coalitions, learn from their experience, and get inspired.