A single dollar invested in child care returns eight times that investment to a community.
Dan Mauk, executive director of the Nebraska City Area Economic Development Corp., provided the statistic to the Morton-James Public Library’s Hot Topics audience on Sept. 14.
Mauk added that the quality of care and education a child receives in the first five years of life impacts their lifetime earning potential.
“It’s hard to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty if parents can’t have their children looked after,” he said.
Mauk said statewide childcare challenges have become a factor influencing economic development, noting that the average Otoe County family with one child in daycare will spend about $7,500 a year on childcare. cares. Several children in the same family or the care of an infant increase this cost.
According to a study conducted by Tiffany Walker, Community Early Years Coordinator for Communities for Kids in Otoe County, approximately 436 children in Otoe County live in homes where both parents work, but these children are not in foster care. in an approved care center when their parents are at work.
Walker, who attended Hot Topics via Zoom, said her job is to connect county child care providers with resources so that children in Otoe County receive safe and nurturing care. high quality. She said she is also inviting new providers to provide services in the county so that the gap between child care and children in need of care can be bridged somewhat.
An affiliation with the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation helps pay for provider training, Mauk said, which could help attract new providers to open facilities in the county.
Mauk said in Nebraska City, a new center run by Ann Knapp, designed to accommodate up to 45 children, is set to open soon on Central Avenue at The Blockhouse. Cornerstone Church has also begun planning a day care center on its property south of the city in Nebraska.
“I feel like we’ve made great strides,” said Walker, who became the community coordinator after attending a town hall in Syracuse earlier this year that Mauk facilitated.
Mauk appeared before the Syracuse City Council on Sept. 14 to ask for money from the city’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to be earmarked for the county’s child care situation. The board requested that Mauk return to the board with a more fleshed out proposal in the future.
Hot Topics is a monthly forum sponsored by Nebraska City Tourism and Commerce. It takes place at 8 a.m. on the second Wednesday of the month. Call 402873-6654 or visit www.nebraskacity.com for more information on upcoming hot topics.