High-quality child care is something that every child deserves, and can make a serious difference in such a formative time. Right now, however, it is something that few children are able to receive. To that purpose, Mountain View Chief of Police George Bethel and State Senator Missy Irvin (R-18) visited Busy Bee Day Care to read to children and discuss the challenges faced by child care providers and parents in Arkansas.
A recent report from the Council for a Strong America claims that children in higher quality child care are better prepared for school at age 4 compared to those with lower quality care, but there is simply not enough quality care available. More than one-third of all Arkansans live in child care “deserts,” where there are at least three children for every licensed child care slot.
That shortage, in turn, leaves child care providers like Busy Bee trying to stretch their resources to accommodate as many children as possible. If those resources are stretched too far, it could reduce the quality of available child care.
“The stakes couldn’t be higher when it comes to dealing with this child care crisis,” said Bethel. “Families in Arkansas depend on quality child care providers to keep their children safe while they work, and the children depend on the nurturing, stimulating environments those providers create that are necessary for healthy brain development. These child care providers are also vital in helping reduce the human and fiscal costs of future crime by helping kids get on the right path towards success early in life.”
“As a lawmaker, I understand it’s our responsibility to protect and expand programs that increase the affordability and availability of quality child care, particularly for infants and toddlers,” said Senator Irvin. “We must continue to foster innovations at the state and local level that address this problem and support current providers like Ms. Ward. The future of our children depends on it.”
“I’m consistently impressed by how much my students learn and improve. When it comes time for them to go to school, I am proud to know that they are prepared, in part due to the resources we’ve been able to provide them. It breaks my heart to know that only one in ten children in Arkansas have access to the care that they need when I see how well it has helped the kids here at Busy Bee, and I hope that more work is done to help those children get the quality care they deserve,” said Rita Ward, Program Director at Busy Bee Day Care.
When there is no child care available, it does not only affect the development of children, but also the economic output of the state. Someone has to take care of the children, which drains manpower and productivity that could be used elsewhere. According to the Council for a Strong America report, Arkansas loses an estimated $348 million annually due to insufficient child care for infants and toddlers.
To find the report and learn more about how to fight the crisis, click here.