BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. – New surveys from Bedford County’s Economic Development Office look to address the childcare shortage for children up to age 13.
“This will allow us to find out from parents what their needs are, find out from businesses what their needs are; and it could be a need from the employer standpoint to say, ‘maybe we can do something here on our property,” said Pam Bailey, economic development director for Bedford County.
At the Bedford YMCA, CEO Mary Jo Boone says they’re only serving 5 to 12-year-olds right now.
They’re constructing a new, million-dollar facility for younger children and hope to have it complete next year.
“We’re out of space with our building. We have tried, over the years, to have zero-to-five [year olds], but we’ve moved them around the building in the different places. But we can do no more than like 10 kids at a time,” said Boone.
The United Way of Central Virginia says the shortage of space is an issue in Bedford and beyond.
“There is a lack of spots for children. For example, in Lynchburg alone, we have 150 three-year-olds that were eligible for public Pre-k. They’re on a waiting list right now, and infant care is almost impossible to find,” said Holly Layne, who is with United Way of Central Virginia.
Layne says, in general, many workers are leaving for better-paying jobs, resulting in high turnover.
Bedford leaders plan on weighing their options.
“Bedford County wants to help shine a light on the problem and, maybe, bring in other opportunities for childcare,” said Bailey.
The surveys are available through Oct. 29.