Susan McDaniel Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
Somewhere in Havre there is a parent picking up a child from the care provider after a long day spent away from home. At the same time, another parent is getting ready to leave for the start of the first shift of the day or maybe even changing clothes to leave for the second job. The worry is never far from the back of the mind who will watch their children if they become ill? Some parents have had long-term relationships with their child care givers. Krista Corner researched possible providers while still pregnant with her first child. Her eventual choice came with good references from a cousin and friends who already had children enrolled with the provider. Now six years and a second child later she doesn’t “have to worry about my children.” “If my kids don’t want to go to Jackie’s, then I know they are really sick,” Corner said. Jackie and “Papa” Tony Lovenguth are the registered and licensed care providers who have always provided care to Corner’s children. “I can count on Jackie to help me out she will make arrangements and do whatever it takes to support me,” Corner said. This year though, a new problem has arisen. Havre has a child care crisis and it is getting worse. In spite of the fact that the local economy seems to be improving and that there are help wanted signs all around town, there are not enough child care providers to go around. Waiting lists at local day care centers are filling up and space is at a premium. Many providers would love to hire more employees so they could provide space for more children, but the economics of that don’t work out, either. “We lost three providers last month alone,” Child Care Link program director Karen Thomas said. Child Care Link provides services to help meet the child care needs of families in Hill, Liberty and Blaine counties. They offer child care referrals, manage the Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship Program and provide orientation, training and professional assistance to care providers. A new mom sits reading the help wanted ads there is a lot of work available a job For her would help her husband’s paycheck stretch to cover the bills. But no, this ad wants someone who can work nights, and that one needs someone who can travel and a third only pays minimum wage not enough to even cover the costs of care. Finding a job is fairly easy; finding someone to provide quality child care is becoming harder each day. With the economic development in the area, the problem will only get worse, Thomas said. Finding alternatives to licensed and registered providers will become more common without new child care businesses opening to keep pace with the job growth. “Financial assistance is available to new child care providers,” Thomas said. The Best Beginnings Program has mini grants and also Child Care Provider Grants. For some parents, there are the old standbys mothers, grandmothers, sisters. For others, those family members are thousands of miles away. “Now that my kids are older, they can stay at home more often,” Branda Rodgers said. “I was lucky my dad and my mom were around to help me when they were little.” Maybe a neighbor will let the child spend the night while a single mom is waitressing or working as a store clerk. If the neighbor isn’t licensed and registered, any possible financial assistance that the young mother might receive won’t be available. Who will watch the children? Call Thomas at Child Care Link at 265-6743 and help find the answers.