Each year, any number of organizations throughout our community conduct a community needs survey. Year-after-year and survey-after-survey, one of the most consistently identified needs is the need for childcare in Beloit. According to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, Beloit is a childcare desert; lacking sufficient childcare resources to meet demand in the community.A lack of access to childcare, however, is ultimately the result of a tangled web of complicated issues not easy to resolve on either the childcare provider or the community side of the issue.
Childcare providers are challenged by:
- A market-rate for care this is not affordable for families but at the same does not cover the true costs of care
- The need to lower pay and benefits as the only mechanism to cover costs
- Childcare professionals leaving the field resulting in centers having to close classrooms
The result is a constant tug between the need to increase wages in order to retain employees and rate increases that make care even less affordable.
On the community side, a lack of access and affordability impact children and families in any number of ways, from the purely economic impact of paying, on average, 3x more than what the government deems “affordable,” to reduced work hours, productivity, and even restricting the ability to work altogether. Businesses and economic development are thus impacted, challenged by the need to recruit and retain employees.
The complicated childcare landscape won’t be untangled through any singular effort, however the absence of an obvious “fix” doesn’t mean a community can do nothing. Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Beloit stepped forward in 2022 with a proposal to open Little Lambs Childcare Center as part of its community-based mission work. The Hendricks Family Foundation provided a $50,000 grant to support facility repairs and classroom supplies required for the occupancy and licensing of the center.
Little Lamb’s mission is to offer a safe and loving learning environment that provides a developmentally appropriate curriculum for children and young families in the Stateline community. The center is licensed to serve 32 children, infants through PreK, and accepts Wisconsin Shares.
A healthy community needs quality, affordable care, both to support the early learning of its youngest community members and to ensure families can sustain the employment that enables them to thrive. Our community’s future depends on it.