Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce working to address childcare shortage

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PITTSBURG, Ks. — An unlikely agency is working to help with the child care shortage in Southeast Kansas.

Who is this organization and what are they doing to help?

The Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce has noticed a direct correlation to employees wanting to work in the area and the child care options available.

With more than 60 children on wait lists for child care providers, the chamber is working to see what business can do to help.

Blake Benson, Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce, said, “We also want to be aware of issues that affect people moving to our community and one of those is lack of available child care slots.”

In an effort to bring more workers to Pittsburg in 2020, the Chamber of Commerce is trying a different approach.

And that’s by working with local businesses to find more child care solutions for the community.

“And that’s kept people from moving into our community. So, we want to work with our existing providers, we want to work with our business community to see if we can find a solution to expand that capacity.”

Blake Benson says one way to ensure anyone who wishes to work in Pittsburg can do so, is to provide them with access to affordable and quality care for their child.

“Are there ways the business community can work with our child care providers? Whether it’s additional satellite locations closer to, to the business. Is there a way for the business community to perhaps cost-share and make that a little more economically feasible for our providers to expand their capacity?

Benson says often times parents won’t take a job after finding out there could be about 60 kids already on a waiting list for day care.

Providers say that’s why they tell parents need to try and get their kids on the list as soon as possible.

Ann Elliott, Family Resource Center, said, “We’ve always told people if you’re thinking about getting pregnant, get on a waiting list somewhere. Because it’s that hard to find infant care.”

The simple fix to this issue would just be to add more teachers, right?

Child care providers must have one teacher for every three infants.

And one teacher for every five toddlers.

That ratio can be hard to maintain, and that’s just one of the obstacles.

“We can’t pay a huge amount of money for what they do. A lot of them come in at minimum wage.”

Ann adds it’s tough to keep up with the demand in Pittsburg because they are looking to keep prices affordable while also still taking a financial loss.

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