There are many problems facing people in Sullivan County that existed before the pandemic. Some have only been exacerbated over the past 16 months as the lion's share of energy and attention …
There are many problems facing people in Sullivan County that existed before the pandemic. Some have only been exacerbated over the past 16 months as the lion's share of energy and attention understandably went to combating this deadly virus.
As reported on the front page of the Democrat on Tuesday, access to reliable and affordable child care continues to be a challenge for some parents, especially single mothers. Many parents who were able to work from home were forced to make due with balancing remote job responsibilities along with family obligations. As some of the remote work situations begin to end and more people head back into a physically present workforce, the need for child care is greater than ever. Executive Director of the Sullivan County Child Care Council Donna Willi explained how two longtime providers closed down during the pandemic, with only one reopening its doors. The county has gained three Day Care Centers in the past 12 months, but two of these new programs currently offer no infant or toddler spots. The county sees the highest demand for childcare for this age group and also during nontraditional hours such as weekends and evenings. According to Willi, only a fraction of those who make requests for childcare actually find suitable arrangements.
But there are organizations, like the Child Care Council and others, trying to address the problem. The Child Care Council has helped facilitate grants from the State Office of Children and Family Services for supplies and funding to meet COVID regulations. As of August 18, the office has approved some 1,657,200 for eligible child care programs in Sullivan County.
There’s a perception that many people aren’t returning to work because they prefer to stay home and get unemployment benefits, but for some people the lack of access to child care is the biggest factor preventing them from reentering the workforce.
We recognize that child care providers in Sullivan County are usually small business owners with very limited resources. Lawmakers should look into ways to make relief programs for small businesses incentivize start up businesses as well.