Stanly Community College president addresses childcare issues during EDC meeting
Published 9:33 am Wednesday, March 29, 2023
The president of Stanly Community College brought up the issue of childcare shortages in the county at Monday’s meeting of the Stanly County Economic Development Commission.
Dr. John Enamait presented a report to the EDC on the status of childcare in Stanly.
Calling the county a “childcare desert,” the report stated the number of licensed childcare homes and centers in Stanly has decreased from 84 to 31 in the last 20 years. Of those 31, none specifically serve children with disabilities.
Twenty of 24 childcare administrators provided data for the report, with additional data coming from Stanly County Partnership for Children, Smart Start data from the U.S. Census and from the North Carolina Division of Child Development and Early Education.
The report found facilities had “long waiting lists for all age groups,” with issues about the shortages ranging from parents returning to work, the closing of other centers and many at fully-licensed capacities.
Stanly has 3,257 children ages 5 and under but only a capacity for 1,834 kids. As of June, two more centers will be closing.
In terms of areas, Locust and Stanfield have 165 spaces compared to 86 spaces in Norwood. The study from 2021-22 stated 24% of infants and 18% of toddlers are being served in the county.
“There’s simply not enough places to put children in daycare,” Enamait said. “It’s a growing problem.”
He said lack of childcare in terms of finding employees “is an economic development issue.”
EDC Director Candice Lowder said the Centralina Development Workforce Board talks about childcare as a barrier to employment. The board has talked about “how we as a region increase the labor force participation, and child care and elder care, especially since COVID, is always something we’ve talked about,” she said.
Lowder said Jordan Lumber Company in Montgomery County plans to build a daycare facility for its employees.