Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - A new report has found a significant shortage in child care availability in Olmsted County.

A study commissioned by Families First of Minnesota and the United Way of Olmsted County put the capacity of both family and Center child care providers in the county at 6700 available slots. It’s estimated that falls short of the expected demand by nearly 1900 slots.

The study also found that while the demand for child care continues to rise, the number of available slots is not keeping pace. In fact, the number of family child care providers in Olmsted County dropped from just over 500 five years ago to around 375 this year. Meanwhile, the number of centers offering full-time childcare programs increased by three to a total of 33 during the same time span.

“These numbers are even worse than we expected,” said Jon Losness, executive director of Families First of Minnesota. “We knew that the number of family child care providers was declining, but this study shows that the child care shortfall is growing at a time in which employers are eager to add workers.”

The report demonstrated how quality child care remains unaffordable for many families. Infant care at a family child care home in Olmsted County averages nearly $170 a week and that number increases to over $300 a week at a childcare center. The median family income in Olmsted County is approximately $68,000, which means a family with an infant and toddler would pay almost 45 percent of its gross income for child care at a center and about 25 percent have a family child care facility.

At the same time, the median national wage for childcare providers is only $9.77 an hour.

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