Local groups come together to tackle childcare shortage

QUINCY (WGEM) – The Community Foundation Serving West Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri is bringing a variety of organizations together to create a new group to support childcare facilities and find ways to solve the lack of childcare in the area.

Community Foundation CEO Catherine Meckes said partners included in the newly formed group that met Monday are the Great River Economic Development Foundation (GREDF), the West Central Childcare Connection, and other local organizations and leaders.

Meckes said group members want to ensure there is high-quality care for every child in the area, but first, they want to address the issues childcare providers face.

“What we’re focused on is that workforce piece of childcare. We know that there are just not enough qualified workers to provide the care that our community needs. There’s a deficit in the number of slots that we have. So how can we work to help support the workers we have now and help encourage more folks to come into the field,” Meckes said.

Meckes said they are looking at local colleges like John Wood and their childcare program. They want to find ways to expand the program to get more people into the pipeline for childcare work.

Since they are a newly formed group, Meckes said they are still discussing specific ideas and solutions. She said they also want to find ways to support childcare facilities.

Recently they provided gift cards for childcare facilities to purchase food and food-related items.

At-home childcare provider Holly Elsie received $450 in gift cards from the Community Foundation childcare group. She said it helps free up the budget. She said she has used some of the money to purchase items for the children. Elsie said the money also gives her the ability to also do some activities they previously might not have been able to do. She said one activity she’s thinking about is family picnics, where the parents of the kids can join them.

Elsie said many parents utilize home daycare providers like hers, but there’s always a struggle for them to find a facility with open slots.

“The challenges that we can face are not having the availability to take on more children because we can only have certain, smaller amounts with just having yourself or possibly maybe a staff member or two. So that’s always a hard thing to have to tell parents that, we don’t have the availability for the children,” Elsie said.

Elsie said her facility can take eight children.

She said she’s glad to have received the money and a new group is working to support childcare in the area.