Updated: Apr 9
MOUND CITY – At the Monday, March 7, meeting Linn County Commissioners learned from Economic Development Director Jessica Hightower that she had attended a meeting about childcare in Miami County the previous week and several people attended from Linn County.
“We were able to set some long- and short-term goals that we would like to see happen within the county concerning childcare,” said Hightower. One short-term goal that emerged from the meeting was creating a Linn County Children’s Action Committee, comprised of people from throughout the county.
Hightower told the commissioners that, once that meeting is set, the goal is to meet with current providers to see what needs they have and how the county can support them.
Next would be to host a recruitment event. Hightower said she had access to $1,500 to help plan the event, provide supplies for it, and also reimburse for staff hours needed to plan it.
She said that she had several people in the county who were interested in being on the committee to help improve childcare in the county.
Commissioner Rick James asked what exactly the committee would do.
The committee would meet on a monthly basis for now while trying to reach out to current providers to see what kind of support they need that they do not already get, she said.
The group would also seek out people in the county who are interested in opening a childcare, and try to connect those people to resources that are available. A lot of people do not know about the resources that are available through the state that would help them, she said.
Hightower told the commissioners that Linn County childcare providers were only fulfilling 30 percent of the childcare needed in Linn County. Those children who are not in local childcare are either going out of county for childcare, the parents are having to decide which parent is going to stay home and take care of their children, or they are going to unlicensed providers.
Commission Chair Jim Johnson asked where Linn County compares with the other counties.
Hightower said that Linn County was a little bit better than Anderson, but that Franklin and Miami were both quite a bit better than Linn County as far as spots available.
Hightower said that Amanda Snyder, the childcare representative from the county health department, is interested in being involved. Presently she does the community baby showers, which can be used as recruitment events and she also does a lot of the “new mom” classes.
She said Snyder would know if any of the new moms are going to stay home and might be interested in bringing in a little income while they are home with their babies and connecting them with resources too.
Hightower said that, at present, there were 12 certified childcare providers in the county. Those are all in-home providers, and she said she believed the most they can have is nine children, and that depends on the age of the child as well.
The commissioners gave her permission to develop the Linn County Children’s Action Committee and to apply for $1,500 in grant funds from the Child Care Aware of Kansas for recruitment.