(The first of a new series)
GHENT—New York State classifies Columbia County as a “child care desert.” In practice that means the futures of children and their parents are stunted by the lack of available and affordable care.
Denise Bell is a first-time mother. She had to leave a job she loved, as a medical receptionist at Columbia Memorial Health, after her daughter Aurora was born. Aurora’s godmother had been caring for Aurora, but when she returned to college, Ms. Bell and her husband could not find a spot in daycare. So, she left work at Columbia Memorial—which, like most health care facilities, has staffing shortages—and, found part-time work that she can do from home.
Now, Ms. Bell says, the lack of daycare is “shaping my whole life.” Aurora is on the wait list at several centers, but Ms. Bell feels that “unless you work in daycare, your child doesn’t have a chance to get in.”
Actually, not even day care workers can find care for their children.
Aisha Hart works for Child Care Connections, a program of Family of Woodstock, Inc. (Family) that links parents to licensed and registered child care programs in Columbia and Greene counties. She is due to deliver her first child in April and started looking for a daycare slot back in November in the hope of being able to continue to work after the baby arrives. She is on several wait lists, but fears that even if a slot opens up (and she does not expect one for at least one year) her family may be not able to pay for it because “unless you can afford a second mortgage or two rents, you can’t afford daycare.” Read more…