Local organization helps struggling parents pay for child care

Published: Jul. 8, 2022 at 5:56 PM CDT
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Families everywhere are struggling to keep up. If the price increases on gas and rent weren’t enough, many parents are facing another worry: how to afford child care.

At Hawk’s Nest Learning Tree in Lynn Haven, the price of staying open is steep.

“Even the cost of supplies has gone up so getting the basic needs for the children to have is hard,” Jaimie Young, Owner and Director of Hawk’s Nest Learning Tree, said.

Hiring has been even harder.

“That’s the biggest issue we’re running into is getting employment because most people can go work down the street for more,” Young said.

The child care center has been open only a year, and already, Young said she’s had to bump up her prices by about $25. And she isn’t the only one.

“I think it probably is safe to assume that childcare is probably looking at a 25% to 35% increase,” Suzan Gage, Executive Director of the Early Learning Coalition of Northwest Florida, said.

It’s a tough pill to swallow for parents on a tight budget.

“Because it can cost anywhere probably $175 to $350 depending on the age of the child and that’s per week. So times two kids and someone who’s making $15, $16, $17 an hour, you’re spending the majority of your take-home pay on childcare,” Gage said. “So families are having to ask that hard question you know is it worth it?”

It’s a question the Early Learning Coalition of Northwest Florida works to ensure no parent has to answer. The organization uses state funds to help struggling families pay for quality child care. But even then, finding a center with an opening in Bay County can feel nearly impossible.

“So in Bay County, childcare is an intense business. We’re kind of in a shortage of childcare facilities,” Gage said.

Hawk’s Nest has over 500 families on a waiting list right now. But Young said she hopes with better pay, she can recruit more people to care for those kids.

For more information on if you’re eligible for assistance with the Early Learning Coalition of Northwest Florida, you can head to here.

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