JAY — Access to reliable childcare is a deterrent for many adults seeking to return to school.
At the Dec. 9 Regional School Unit 73 Board of Directors meeting, Robyn Raymond, director of Spruce Mountain Adult and Community Education shared results of a childcare needs assessment survey distributed for eight weeks in the Jay/Livermore/Livermore Falls area. The survey, made available in September is part of a collaboration between Spruce Mountain Adult Education and Western Maine Community Action’s Whole Families program.
WMCA is committed to expanding access to childcare in greater Franklin County, Robyn told the Board of Directors in October. WMCA hopes to build a pilot site at Spruce Mountain Adult and Community Education in Livermore Falls, Raymond added.
The survey had 67 parents or guardians respond, with 83.6% from the Tri-Town region. When asked if childcare was currently being looked for in the region, of the 59 respondents 49.2% weren’t, 30.5% were and 20.3% might be. Regarding the number of children in the family, 46.3% had two children, 19.4% one and 17.9% three. Most children were between the ages of six and 10.
The majority of respondents worked during the week with 22.4% working on Saturday and 17.9% Sunday. First shift/eight-hours and 8 a.m. to 4 or 4:30 p.m. each had 32.8% responses while 10% worked 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 50.7% indicated fulltime childcare was needed while for 47.8% it was afterschool care.
Other survey results:
• 75% of parents are not currently enrolled in school; 42% would return to school if they had access to reliable childcare.
• 54% would enroll at Spruce Mountain Adult Education in some capacity if childcare were offered on-site. (High school completion/workforce training/college transitions)
• Childcare costs (68.7%) and availability of local childcare centers (58.2%) were the two most significant barriers for parents.
• 83.1% had not applied for childcare subsidy.
“Many people didn’t know it’s available,” Raymond said. More than 10% of the 59 answering the question asked for more information on subsidies, she noted.
According to Raymond, the tentative agreement with Western Maine Community Action states:
A.) Parents will either be on the premises working toward a credential of value, or
B.) Working in conjunction with workforce partners in an on-the-job training capacity while their children are cared for at the Spruce Mountain Adult Education location.
“We will not be direct providers of care,” Raymond said. “WMCA will hire staff and rent space from us to meet the needs of the community.”
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