Day care closing amplifies child care shortage in Kearney
Parents with children at the Little Learners Early Learning Center in Kearney were informed on Wednesday that the facility, which has only been open for a year, is planning to close its doors Dec. 28, leaving many parents scrambling for alternative day cares.
In Kearney finding childcare, especially on short notice, is not an easy task.
Parents say while there are over 100 licensed childcare providers in Kearney, most centers are at or near capacity with little room to expand.
"So we have just a couple weeks to find child care little learners is closing at the end of December. We have reached out to a couple of past nannies who might have friends who could nanny as well. Otherwise most of the other child care facilities are full already and its only been two days so that's a little frustrating," said Jennifer Nolda, owner of PressOn Fitness who has a child who attended Little Learners.
According to information provided by the Department of Health and Human Services, right now there are spots for 3,735 children in child care facilities in Kearney, but according to the most recent census data there are 8,881 children under the age of 13 in Kearney.
In addition to being mostly full, many are also finding childcare in Kearney prohibitively expensive. Even for just a single kid, child care costs can easily reach the tens of thousands of dollars for just a year.
"So for the first two years of his life we had an in home nanny and that was amazing but the cost is outrageous. For about 8 months we spent over $11,000. So putting that in perspective we started at Kearney little learners in August and part time was only $130 a week. If we went full time it was $170 a week so you can see the cost savings there," said Nolda.
There are challenges on the facility side as well. Parents are understandably picky about where they send their kids and it can be difficult to even get parents in the door.
"Well some people will just drive by, look and go well does it look like they care for the outside of the building? That's unfortunate sometimes because many are older buildings like ours and inside we are always repairing and fixing and keeping up. When they walk in does it smell right, feel right, is it a good fit? Do they feel welcome or is it holy smokes get me out the door," said manager of Sugar and Spice Child Care Center in Kearney Jim Decker.
With the closing of Little Learners the capacity for child care in Kearney decreases by 70 kids, but parents will have until Dec. 28 to find alternative child care.