The Star-Herald

Leaders need to help solve child care crisis

To the editor:

On Thursday, Sept. 15, a town hall meeting was held at the Caribou Recreation Center. For nearly 90 minutes, community members heard from local daycare providers the chilling details of a system on the verge of collapse.

Unbeknownst to most of us, we have a daycare crisis. Just as the economy around us begins to recover from the pandemic, daycare centers and home daycare providers are at risk of closing. The reasons cited were many: low ages that force qualified workers to seek other employment; child care subsidies based on tuition, rather than the real cost of providing quality care; frequently changing daycare regulations imposed by the state that few, if any, of our homes would pass.

Cumulatively, these factors are causing daycares to close at an alarming rate, and leaving the remaining providers hanging on by a thread. Left unchecked, this crisis will impact businesses and institutions in profound and negative ways.  

Imagine any of the following: 

– Hospitals and nursing homes understaffed, compromising the quality of care offered the ill and aging;

– Teachers and school employees missing work days on end;

– Businesses forced to reduce hours because of a shortage of workers;

– The inability to attract and retain quality employees.

 All because of a shortage of child care. For good reason, child care workers were deemed essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic; their availability allowed other businesses to stay open. And yet, this necessary platform that supports so many other businesses and institutions is shaking badly. 

That is why I was dismayed that so few local business and civic leaders attended the town hall meeting. In the absence of their investment and their voices, this problem will go unabated and they will find themselves scrambling and wondering why they didn’t do more when they could. For the sake of the local economy and the vitality of our community, I invite and challenge them to lead; to consider the potential impact on their businesses and institutions and take strong action before it’s too late. 

Timothy P. Stohlberg

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