Early Childhood Leaders speak out for what they know is right for young children and families!
Below is a letter to the editor I wrote concerning a possible zoning change that would limit the size of home based child care in my community. It was published today in the Jackson Hole News and Guide.
To the Teton County Business Community and its leaders,
Child care is not just a family issue it is a community issue. Right along side housing and health care, child care is one of the most important segments of a community’s infrastructure. Without safe, affordable, child care options businesses suffer and our community suffers.
Businesses depend on their human resources to be productive and thrive. Research shows when employees lack adequate child care they can be distracted, tardy or absent, limiting them from functioning fully in the workplace. This strain on the individual employee often produces more work and stress for their co-workers causing the entire workplace to be affected. Furthermore, lack of adequate child care often deters bright, experienced, hard working employees from returning to the workforce, causing unnecessary turnover, adding hiring and training costs to a business’s overhead, and limiting the talent available.
Let’s talk trickle down economics. Statistics show that an average annual child care tuition exceeds the annual tuition of a year at the University of Wyoming. When Teton County families, who are typically at the beginning of their earning trajectory, incur this tremendous monetary strain on their household budgets, it limits their consumption. In other words, the high cost of child care hits the bottom line of individual families, limits their discretionary spending and has repercussions for the economic growth and wellbeing of our community.
The Teton County Planning Commission is recommending a prohibition on certain home-based child care centers on high-density rural properties smaller then 10 acres. Currently, with a special use permit, these types of properties allow a home-based child care center to have up to 11 children in their care at a given time. The change would limit these small businesses to 6 children lowering the overall spaces available in Teton County. Furthermore, planning commission members stated in the May 13, 2015 Jackson Hole News and Guide article “Home Day Care Limits Loom”, day care centers are more appropriate in commercially zoned areas.
I would suggest if the proposed changes for home-based child care centers in Teton County occur, our business community will suffer. Existing home-based programs will be forced to down size, decreasing the number of child care spots available to working families as well as reducing the revenue of these important small businesses. The cost of child care will increase because home-based programs will be forced to increase rates to make up for lost revenue and potential new child care programs will be driven to pay impossibly high rents for space in commercial zones. Fewer adequate affordable child care options in Teton County will challenge our workforce and will be reflected throughout our business community.
I recommend all businesses, large and small, consider the adverse affect this proposed change will have on their employees and their ability to run successfully. Teton County’s child care needs already exceed the safe affordable spaces available. Allowing this proposal to move forward will exacerbate an already existing problem. Let’s do what is right for our community and stop this proposal from moving any further forward.
Betsy Carlin, MS Early Childhood Studies