A new study shows Olmsted County is short on child care providers and many facilities are maxed out.
This shortage has a lot of repercussions in the community.
According to the study, which was commissioned by Families First of Minnesota and United Way of Olmsted County, Olmsted County is short 1,855 child care slots of the expected need.
What's more is that child care centers are full to the brim, leaving many families on waiting lists.
First Children's Finance conducted a supply and demand analysis of child care providers in Olmsted County.
Findings of the analysis show that while demand for child care continues to rise, the number of providers just isn't keeping up.
The number of child care providers has declined from 502 in 2012 to just 376 this year; at the same time, the number of centers offering full-time programs has grown from 30 to 33 in the same time period.
With growing costs of care tied into the lack of space and providers, many families resort to caring for their children on their own.
One key thing to keep in mind is that child care centers are so much more than educational systems.
Rachel Krupa of Early Advantage Developmental Child Care Center in Byron said these kids get time to interact outside of the family setting and make friends, learning to develop relationships with others.
"We're a second home for them, and that's the biggest thing," said Krupa.
With families resorting to caring for their kids, a ripple effect is created when it comes to the workforce.
"Making it more and more challenging for employers to find workers because we know we've got probably a couple of thousand of people that would like to be in the workforce that can't because they can't find childcare," said Jon Losness, the Executive Director for Families First of Minnesota.
The shortage of childcare providers isn't the only issue—many child care centers are maxed out.
Take Early Advantage Developmental Child Care Center in Byron, for example.
Not only is the day care at full capacity, but they have a full waiting list, as well.
"We are licensed for 81 kids and they are at full capacity. We have 100 families on our wait list now and most of it is out until 2018,” said Krupa.
Tying into the care provider shortage, how does the provider-child ratio stack up at Early Advantage?
Here's the break-down:
"In preschool and pre-K we have a 1 to 10 ratio, and in preschool and pre-K we have 50 kids. And in our toddler, infant and wobbler, it's toddlers are 1 to 7 and wobblers and infants are 1 to 4," explained Krupa.
Krupa said the need for childcare providers and larger space is a never-ending cycle.
"We know that kids are going to keep happening, we're going to have more and more of them. So we know that it's a big need,” said Krupa.
A need in which the future of growing children is dependent upon.
The hope to start finding a solution to the problem is that employers in the community start to look at this as an issue to address.
Losness also said he hopes legislature might be able to provide some tax incentives for families who need some financial assistance when paying for childcare.