Indiana families are finding it more difficult to find quality child care for infant and toddlers. Child care deserts are growing in rural areas especially affecting low-income families.
Parents know child care is expensive, but these days expensive takes on a whole new meaning. The average cost of infant care is nearly $15,000 per year.
The Center for American Progress found child care slots are shrinking for Indiana families leaving many with a burden they can no longer bear, and it affects their quality of life.
For Indiana mother Tiffany Taylor finding and paying for child care is a struggle.
“You have to work a whole extra job just to pay for childcare, good childcare,” says Taylor.
While Indiana’s population is growing access to licensed child care for new families is shrinking.
Low-income families in rural areas are affected the most.
“If you don’t have money for daycare, you can’t go to work. If you can’t go to work, you can’t have money for daycare. So it’s just a never ending struggle with kids,” says Taylor.
Programs like the 4C’s of Southern Indiana take time, or a referral.
“They were talking about an 8 month waiting list for their vouchers to help pay for it so unless you have 8 months to wait for a voucher you have to pay out of pocket,” says Taylor.
It’s a cost some families can’t afford.
“If I have to work and pay for day care, I don’t even have enough after day care to pay for my bills.”
An analysis by the Center for American Progress finds the number of children younger than three surpasses the amount of child care slots available for infants and toddlers.
In Indiana, there are more than five infants and toddlers for every licensed child care slot.
Three or more children per provider is classified as a child care desert.
“It is critical that you have the numbers and the ratio right but at the same time it eliminates any of the slots that are available to families and participants,” says Carver Community Organization executive director, David Wagner.
Its’ hard to find a balance in the price of care and quality workers.
“We do develop waiting list, but we try to help families find services as quickly as they can,” says Wagner.
“Childcare is an economic development issue and it needs to be looked at as that. If you want quality work force then you are going to have to have quality child care.”
That’s why many families like Taylor’s are forced to find alternatives.
“Luckily my rent is low right now so I don’t have to struggle too much, but there are churches who help with programs so I take advantage of those,” says Taylor.
Child care providers say it is critical to enroll children in quality services in their developmental years.