Bay County’s child care shortage

Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 8:08 PM CDT
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At Creative Kids Academy in Panama City, owner Kim Guynn says business is booming. “So there is a tremendous need for child care in the area, but specifically infants and toddlers, or our one-year-olds.”

Guynn said the shortage of child care following Hurricane Michael has only gone up since COVID-19. “We do have parents that need to go to work to an establishment. We do have parents that are able to work at home right now but need that quiet time to dedicate themselves to their job,” she said.

Guynn believes the solution to the problem is two-fold- “I do think that we need quality staff, staff that is wanting and able to work with that age group, but we do need more space,” but that need may soon be met. Two weeks ago Florida’s First Lady announced $5.2 million will be going towards child care in our area- that includes recruitment and expansion for child care facilities.

“Through that program, we’re actually hoping to either ‘A’ help open entirely new child care businesses in the area, and ‘B’ help expand existing child care businesses in the area,” said communications and community relations director for the Early Learning Coalition of Northwest Florida, Lindsay Holmes.

Many families receive financial help from the coalition, but some have to look elsewhere for child care.

“I think some of them are probably looking towards more privatization, more home-based, or just like a babysitter type thing and that’s a huge expense,” said executive director of Healthy Start, Sharon Trainor.

But Guynn says child care is not only important to a good economy- it’s the backbone. “Child care is such a critical part of our economy for families to work and it’s critical that they get the care they need.”

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