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Addressing Child Care: Initiative Takes Aim at Gap in Availability

by Andrew Adams, Effingham Daily News / Feb 11, 2021

IECAM child care data

Johnna Schultz says the library should be a “catalyst for change” in Effingham. She’s helped form a group of people—and a state-organized initiative—to help bring new childcare options to Effingham.

Illinois Early Childhood Asset Map (IECAM) data helps a community-based collaborative in its initiative to expand access to child care programming.

Effingham is one of the first five communities in Illinois to participate in a state-wide program aimed at expanding access to childcare programs and developing new ones. This could address an ongoing problem facing Effingham’s parents: the “slot gap.”

The slot gap is a term used to describe the difference between the number of children who might need childcare and the number of theoretically available slots across all childcare options: daycare centers, Head Start programs, licensed in-home daycare, and other options.

In Effingham County, there are about 1,400 slots for kids who haven’t yet entered kindergarten, despite the fact there are 2,600 kids in the county, according to data from the Illinois Early Childhood Asset Map. That’s 45% of kids who can’t receive childcare. For the most vulnerable children who come from the area’s poorest families, the figure jumps up to 61%.

But Illinois Action for Children, a nonprofit aimed at addressing the needs of children around the state, has partnered with the Governor’s Office for Early Childhood Development to help communities like Effingham build up knowledge and make a plan to close the slot gap and bring in new childcare options. The Community Based Planning program kicked off on Jan. 25 with a meeting of stakeholders from various groups around Effingham.

Read more of the story from the Effingham Daily News...