Childcare availability varies widely across Kansas and some areas are designated childcare deserts.
Do you know what a childcare desert is? A childcare desert is an area where the capacity of childcare is lower than 50% of the demand.
Forty-four percent of Kansans live in a childcare desert, according to ChildcareInKansas.com. ChildCareAware.org reports that five out of nine Southeast Kansas (SEK) counties are childcare deserts. And Kansas has seen a decrease in childcare services over the last several years.
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Local efforts increase childcare availability
The Morning Sun recently reported information provided by area childcare providers on the need for increased childcare options in Crawford County. The Crawford County commissioners have set aside $2.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to invest in childcare services. As a result of collaborations, expansions, and commitment to the community, Crawford County has the potential for 6 new childcare facilities in the future!
Other SEK areas are responding to the need for more childcare services as well. The Erie community increased childcare services earlier this year and is considering expanding services to meet the continued need. Discussions within the Chanute community for childcare expansion are also in the works. Fort Scott dodged a bullet recently when the New Generation Child Care & Preschool owners retired after 32 years of childcare provision. New Generation opened in 1990 and new owners took the reins in May, keeping the needed facility open.
The need for additional childcare services in SEK is significant. According to data from Child Care Centers and Licensed Family and Group Homes, the following potential number of childcare slots are needed to meet the current demand across SEK’s nine counties:
- Allen – 61
- Bourbon – 341
- Cherokee – 760
- Crawford – 883
- Labette – 371
- Montgomery – 1,037
- Neosho – 236
- Wilson – 357
- Woodson – 123
CFSEK supports Southeast Kansas childcare providers
At the Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas (CFSEK), we are proud to have provided funding for childcare needs in SEK since 2004. Current and former Family Resource Center staff talk about the CFSEK and The Center relationship over the years in this video:
Just last year, one of the 11 proposals funded during the 2021 CFSEK Future Fund Giving Circle grant process was awarded to a new childcare initiative. Sonshine Childcare received funding for equipment for the new childcare center that will be located at Victory Life Church, 681 US-69, Pittsburg, KS. Victory Life Church staff and congregation have been working toward the goal of helping meet the need for more childcare in the Pittsburg area for three years. They realized the need existed in the community and went to work. Victory Life pastor, Donnie Talent, would love to share the story of the Sonshine Childcare project. He can be reached at Victory Life Church, 620-232-1150.
The Future Fund Giving Circle and CFSEK are pleased to recognize the need for and be part of the childcare solution in Southeast Kansas.
Future Fund Giving Circle grant applications for 2022 are being accepted now through August 31 for Crawford County nonprofits.
The need for quality, accessible, affordable childcare is clear. The prosperity of our SEK communities depends on it.