UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY-TV) – You’ve heard of food deserts and healthcare deserts, but have you heard of child care deserts? 64% of people in New York live in a child care desert, and the pandemic has only made things worse.
“Child care deserts exist in the same way that food deserts exist,” Courtney A. Jones Communications Coordinator for Cornell Cooperative Extension explained. “There are child care deserts in each of our counties in one way or another.”
The Child Care Council of Cornell Cooperative Extension works with families to find child care providers in three counties, Oneida, Herkimer and Madison. Child care deserts existed before the pandemic but people are now having a harder time than ever finding childcare. The area alone has lost 30 providers since the pandemic which means 750 children are without access.
“We’ve lost a lot of child care providers due to healthcare concerns,” Jones said. “Due to not being able to keep up and due to being scared.”
The Child Care Council is desperate for new providers to open their doors in the area.
“Our biggest hurdle that we’re facing right now is trying to find anyone who is able to open a new child care program,” Jones said. “Because it’s desperately a need right now to have new child care programs and it’s in such high demand that any child care program that would open right now would fill up pretty much instantly.”
Jones notes that now is the best time for those who are interested in opening their own child care program because of the government grant money through the Federal American Rescue Plan Act And the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, for more information on how you can become a childcare provider you can call 1-888-814-kids.