SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) — Child Start, and the Workforce Alliance of South Central Kansas have partnered up to create Creative Child Care Connections. It is a series that matches child care providers with employers.
First, child care providers create a profile, and it is sent out to employers.
“What their mission is, their beliefs, their values, the types of children they serve, and we send the profile out to employers, and they have the option to swipe left or right,” Child Start Executive Director Tanya Bulluck said.
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Then, employers with meet the providers they think a partnership could work out.
“We let them engage more intimately just one-on-one with the group and ask questions and see if they truly are a fit,” Bulluck said.
Creative Child Care Connections meets every two weeks so employers and child care providers can meet and discuss needs.
Bulluck says in Sedgwick County, only 45% of the demand is met for child care.
“Parents don’t have child care, they don’t go to work, and now we have a workforce crisis,” Bulluck said.
The partnership is designed to benefit both industries.
“We can’t get providers into the workforce to work when we’re not even paying them $15 an hour, and we can’t get providers to open up their own businesses because it’s really expensive,” Bulluck said. “So if we can partner up with employers to see how we can invest in these providers, we may be able to solve an issue eventually.”
President and CEO of Workforce Alliance South Central Kansas, Keith Lawing, says that child care is an employment barrier for many people.
“There’s not a segment of the workforce that I have heard from where child care is not an issue for us,” Lawing said.
The partnership can entail anything from holding spots at a child care center to providing stipends.
“When they’re onboarding and recruiting new employees, they can say, ‘Hey, this is a benefit, and we have a spot for you.’ Would you like to check the provider? They can offer a discount,” Bulluck said.
Businesses could invest in a provider.
“There are a lot of providers right now who are currently family child care providers who really want to build a facility, and they don’t have the funds that the employer can invest in building a child care center,” Bulluck said.
Reliable child care means reliable workers.
“When we have happier families who feel they have a safe, secure, healthy environment to send their children to, it really affects everything overall, mental health, which is a major crisis also right now,” Bulluck said. “If you have a parent who is not struggling with stressing about their child’s safety, you have better chances of employers not worrying about absenteeism, showing up for work late, leaving work. It’s going to create a lot of benefits.”
Bullluck says 90% of a child’s brain is developed by the age of five, and 80% is developed from ages 0-3.
“When they don’t have the opportunity to be in a program where they can get that quality early care and education, we start seeing lower literacy rates, lower graduation rates, higher prison rates, it really truly affects us all the way through life,” Bulluck said.
The workforce and child care go hand in hand.
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“They may not know that an applicant is turning down a job from them because of child care issues,” Lawing said. “So, we’re trying to make awareness on both sides. The challenges job seekers are facing but also for employers, understanding that there’s different tools out there to help you attract workers and overcome this child care crisis.”
He says many businesses that qualify don’t take advantage of the tax credits available through the Kansas Department of Revenue. They have credits available up to $30,000. To learn more, contact the Workforce Alliance.
Parents can find a child care provider here.
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