This is not something Twin Cities parents are used to hearing. Not only are there a bunch of openings at area day cares but some in-home day cares are really worried they can't make it. And those who want to say they'll have to undergo some serious changes in the way they do business to attract and keep their children.
They say it's due to a souring economy. For 20 years in-home day care provider Carla McCoy-Johnson of Andover says she's had a full house. But that's changing. She says she's gone from, "Eight to ten kids a day. Now I'm down to four to five... Three of my families have lost their jobs and that has affected me directly. I am very lucky I have a second job."
Fewer families are looking for day care too. Sandy Henry not only runs a day care out of her home in Ramsey, she also refers families to other licensed providers. Henry says, "I used to get about a call or two a day and right about now I get about a call a month." So in order to keep her home full, she's more flexible.
She says, "A lot of my full-time kids are now part-time." And for her families facing tough times, she's adjusted her weekly rate of 110 dollars. She says, "Some of my parents are paying upwards of 80, 90 dollars a week."
Elizabeth Cooper, of the Minnesota Child Care Resource and Referral Network, says, "We don't have hard numbers right now in terms of giving you a trend in how the downturn is impacting child care. But we do know that parents are facing some stresses right now. So we are here to help."
Her agency helps families find ways to pay for child care and provides grants to day care providers so they can stay in business. Henry says day care providers need to be flexible because some income is better than none.
We also spoke with some day care centers about how the economy is affecting business. One chose not to comment. Another didn't get back to us. Two others say they're still full and one even has a waiting list, but they do have more parents asking about part-time care.
The Minnesota Child Care Resource and Referral Network can provide like more information on programs and assistance for families and day care providers. Click on the link or call them at 1-888-291-9811.
(Copyright 2008 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)