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Searching for answers to the childcare problem in Utah



Salt Lake City, Utah – Local authorities in Utah state that they are working hard to find answers as the childcare crisis affects not just families but entire communities.

Families claim they have to decide between having parents work outside the home to support their family or staying at home to raise their children.

“The childcare crisis is real. There is an immense need for affordable childcare and there just aren’t enough places that can do that,” said Jennifer Nuttall, Exec. Dir. of Neightborhood House.

All families are impacted by this problem, especially immigrant families attempting to realize the American Dream.

“To keep their jobs, to provide for their families, but also to provide resources for their children and their family members, to be educated, to be safe, and eventually to contribute to society themselves.” explained Eduardo Baca, the Counsul of Mexico in Salt Lake City.

It’s a situation that has its roots in other local problems like inflation and the cost of housing.

“Family’s income is increasingly reliant, even in the state of Utah on the mother’s income. Mothers contributing to the economy and bringing money into their households,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall.

That’s why organizations like Neighborhood Houses are making an effort to fill the gaps and assist individuals in finding affordable daycare.

“If you don’t have the care for your kids, its hard to find a job and leave your kids with people that you don’t know,” said Ariadna Morales, Asst. Manager for Children’s Development and a parent at Neighborhood House. “It’s really important and Neighborhood House has made a huge difference on those families.”

However, families are unable to handle everything on their own, and federal funds utilized during the pandemic are running low. The Utah State Legislature’s failure to approve funds designated for childcare resources made matters worse.

“We’ll continue to work with the federal government,” said Utah Gov. Spencer Cox. “Obviously, that’s where the funding has come from that is being removed, and so those are the discussions that are happening. The legislature holds the purse strings. We’ve been working really hard on this tax credit for families that will be an additional $400 for about 5,000 families that need access to childcare and we think that will go long ways, but certainly we still have more work to do..”

Innovative solutions are also being explored through collaborations between the public and commercial sectors.

“More and more, businesses are recognizing that childcare should be part of the benefits that they are offering to their employees,” added Cox. “So that will help. As more and more businesses open childcare facilities, that frees up other childcare openings for those that don’t have that benefit in their companies.”

The workforce as a whole is impacted by the community issue of childcare accessibility.

“We love having a state that can bring people into here, but if we don’t have the workers to support that infrastructure, then whats going to happen?,” asked Nuttall. “That’s going to collapse. So all of that depends on a family having high-quality affordable childcare so they can get into the workforce, do what they need to do, and be contributing members of our community.”

Contacting the Utah Department of Workforce Services is advised for those seeking daycare options that suit a variety of family needs.


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