Child Care

Q&A: Helping Parents Find Quality Child Care

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United Way of Connecticut 211 Child Care has released a new Child Care Provider Portal with the aim of giving families better access to information on child care.

Finding quality and affordable child care has become of the biggest challenges for parents moms and dads can face. In fact, it's one of the reasons many people say they aren't getting back into the workforce even though we know there are many jobs available. Without adequate childcare, many parents just can't work.

A recent study from the CT Collective for Women and Girls finds that one in three families in our state couldn't find child care during the pandemic. As a result, women are four times more likely to leave the workforce than men and in families where one parent had to quit in order to stay home with the kids, 76% were women. That could have a big impact on our economy. Even if 1% of women leave the workforce for a year, it could cost Connecticut's economy $150 million.

NBC Connecticut's Dan Corcoran sat down with Sherri Sutera, senior vice president of child care services at United Way of Connecticut to talk about the problem and how they hope the new portal can make things easier on struggling parents.

Dan: "Thanks so much for being here to discuss 211 Child Care's new Provider Portal. So what is it and how can it help parents?"

Sutera: "Well, we're really excited to launch the provider portal portion of our online search tool that we have. So to have one child here has an online search tool. So families themselves can go online, they can look for child care to meet their family's needs. Now we launched a portal so providers can go online themselves into the secure portal for themselves. And they can change their program profiles, so we can get real-time updates, which is an amazing resource for families. So say the provider has a new infant opening that just happened today. They don't need to wait for us to update their profile online, they can go in themselves, they can change their status, they can let us know how many openings they have, and for what age groups of families can get access to real-time information. We try to help families with all of their early care needs."

Dan: "We've talked about it a lot here on the news that a lack of child care is a big reason why so many people left the workforce - especially women. So how do you think addressing the childcare issue can also address the jobs issue in our state?"

Sutera: "They're critical, they go hand in hand, when the pandemic you know, was in its throes and at the peak programs were close, we didn't even really have a lot of programs that we could refer families to. Then when child care was tracking for the state of Connecticut, all the programs that remained open, particularly for essential workers, first responders and frontline hospital personnel. That was our priority. So all these families, you know, many of them left the workforce. Now families, you know, have to get back into that they have to reorient their children have to bond again, with new caregivers, they need to set up schedules, you know, a very big challenge for our families working on traditional hours, you know, second shift, third shift weekends is trying to find child care, to meet those needs. You know, the Office of Early Childhood and the state of Connecticut is working very hard to support providers, giving them access to financial stabilization grants, so they can remain open, reopen and care for these children with an emphasis on non-traditional. Care that will really help our economy and our workforce in Connecticut.

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