by Jeremy Moule
Jenn Beideman should have no problem finding full-time day care for her toddler daughter, Quinn.
As director of whole child health for Common Ground Health and president of the board of the Child Care Council, a child care referral agency, Beideman is also intimately familiar with the local systems set up to support the county’s youngest residents and their families.
Yet Beideman and her husband, Craig, have been trying to find full-time care for Quinn, who is now 13 months old, since Beideman was 20 weeks pregnant with her. They eventually had to settle on a part-time spot that they heard about through a tip from a friend. Quinn now spends two days a week at day care and two days a week being cared for by family and friends. On Fridays, Beideman works from home to be with her.
“The Child Care Council did a great job,” Beideman said. “They referred me to all of these different providers and home-based and centers, and just none of them had space.”
Their story is an all too common one. Even before the pandemic hit, parents across Monroe County struggled to find daycare spots for their children, particularly infants and toddlers. But the situation only worsened between 2020 and 2022, when the county lost 1,700 slots — roughly 6 percent of its child care capacity — according to a report for The Children’s Agenda, a child advocacy group.
Of those lost slots, nearly 700 were spread among 58 home-based daycares, which tend to be heavily used by low-income families and parents who need care for their children outside of the standard 9-to-5 workday.
The shortage is of the utmost relevance right now, as the county has tens of millions of dollars in funding to help families and, in many cases, a dearth of places to spend it.
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