KENDALLVILLE — On the heels of the announcement that Kendallville will be losing one day care center, Noble County is launching a new effort to discuss the availability of child care.

Next week, a group of representatives from United Way of Noble County, local foundations and school corporations, economic development organizations, industrial employers, libraries and more will meet as the Noble County Early Childhood Education Coalition to work on how to transform early childhood education and the quality of care. The group will be exploring strategies to expand capacity and enhance quality through both public and private funding.

Many of those stepping up to create the ECE Coalition attended last November’s Indiana Early Learning Summit at Purdue Fort Wayne. Hearing stories from employers who have implemented innovative benefits programs to help parents, businesses that have invested through public-private partnerships to add new programs, and from providers who have raised the bar on quality and diversity of programs offered provides hope to local stakeholders.

“We are thrilled to have so many committed partners coming to the table around the issue of high-quality, affordable childcare for our community,” said Debi Pfaffenberger, executive director of the United Way of Noble County.

The availability of child care remains a development issue for many counties and is a problem not easily solved.

The economics of child care are difficult, as child care facilities are highly regulated by the state, requiring specific types of facilities as well as maintaining staff-to-child ratios. Weekly costs to parents can run toward $100 per week on the low-end, but run up above $200 per week for more expensive child care options.

Meanwhile, pay for child care workers on average is exceptionally low, with many child care workers earning wages in the $20,000s.

According to the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration child care finder, Noble County has less than 10 licensed day cares available to families.

Child care is often cited as an economic development factor. For companies that want to attract young workers or new residents to the area, not having enough child care for children during the day can be a limiting factor to new growth.

Anyone interested in becoming a part of the ECE Coalition is encouraged to contact the United Way of Noble County at 306-5360 for more information.

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