For working parents, time is beyond precious, and finding childcare services is becoming more and more time-consuming. However, new data suggests when and where you look might help determine how successful you’ll be.
According to data compiled by Starting Point, a local non-profit that specializes in child care resources and referrals, the amount of space available at child care programs within Cleveland city limits greatly outpaces the available space in Cleveland’s suburbs. This is especially true for child care facilities that have earned three stars or higher under the state’s Step Up to Quality scoring system.
Under the Step Up to Quality scoring system, facilities with higher scores typically have smaller class sizes because facilities earn more points for smaller student-to-parent ratios. This will become even more apparent in 2020 when all child care facilities that accept local and state childcare vouchers are required to score one star or higher under the Step Up to Quality system.
However, the issue of a shortage in childcare isn’t a new one, according to Debbie Fodge, the associate director for Starting Point.
“I’ve seen this problem for the 30 years that I’ve been involved in child care resource and referral, helping parents to locate care,” Fodge said. “Infants and toddler spots tend to fill up quickly because of the requirement of a smaller ratio and group size.”
Many parents in Northeast Ohio seeking childcare for their newborn infants or soon-to-be-born infants have been shocked to learn many daycare facilities have waiting lists through the year 2020. That doesn’t surprise Fodge, however.
“It’s important if you do find a provider that you like – whether it’s home-based or center-based – to get on a waiting list. Those waiting lists do change over time,” Fodge said. “They can change quickly, depending on the time of year, so that can help.”
According to data provided to News 5 from Starting Point, the vacancy rate for child care services for infants and toddlers in Cleveland’s suburbs is at 21 percent as of June. However, inside the city limits, the vacancy rate for infants is 32 percent and 33 percent for toddlers.
The disparity is even more pronounced for high-ranking child care facilities.
In Cleveland’s suburbs, the vacancy rate for child care facilities in the suburbs that earned a score of three stars or higher is 10 percent for infants. For toddlers, it is at 7 percent. Inside the city limits, the vacancy rates are 27 percent for infants and 23 percent for toddlers.
Fodge said the moral of the data’s story is to look early, look often and look beyond just your neighborhood. Starting Point has offices in downtown Cleveland, Lake County, Geauga County and Ashtabula County.