Do dips in local daycare reflect sour economy?

 

HUDSON—Across the country day care providers are losing kids. “A lot of providers are seeing that with mom or dad losing their job, they are losing children,” said Kristin Scace, a referral counselor for the Child Care Council of Columbia.

   Over 11 million children participate in daycare programs while their parents work.  Recent data show that 13 million Americans are now out of work, with another 9 million unable to find full-time jobs, settling instead for part-time employment. Nationwide, parents are taking kids out of daycare, and national labor statistics show a loss of 2,900 childcare jobs.

   In Columbia County, the unemployment rate is now 8%, the highest in the past 20 years. Sara Clough, assistant program coordinator for daycare at the county Department of Social Services, said that applications for help funding daycare expenses are down. “Many can’t pay one half or any part of the cost,” she said.

      But Jean Cobb, director of the Hudson Day Care Center, said that enrollment has remained steady so far. She also said that enrollment tends to fluctuate even in good times, regardless of the fact that many of her clients are subsidized by federally and locally funded programs.

   The Starting Place in Hudson is closing one daycare class due to a drop in attendance. But the drop in the number of working mothers lining up to compete for a place in a popular toddler class that once had a waiting list may not reflect trends in the economy.

   Carolynn Anklam, who directs the Starting Place daycare program for COARC, said a lot of factors could be in play in the downturn of enrollment in that particular class. “We had started the group last fall—we heard there was a need—to see if we could make a go of it. But there has not been enough interest from the public to continue,” she said.

   Most of the toddlers in the group, who range in age from 18 months to 3 years, aged out of that program and were eligible to join the older preschool group. 

   “Kids get pulled out regardless of the economy,” said Ms. Anklam.

 

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