ELKHART — One of the largest detriments to families in Elkhart County is the lack of affordable, quality day care for children.
Statistics from the Indiana Youth Institute show that over the past four years very little has changed in the availability of affordable child care centers in the county.
In 2016, there were only 13 licensed child care facilities in the county, an increase from 12 in 2015 and up from 10 in 2013. The number of licensed home-based child care facilities decreased to 34 in 2016, down from 36 in 2015 and 38 in 2013.
The number of registered child care ministries has remained steady at 18 the past four years. Since 2013, the number of child care slots per 100 children ages birth through five has increased from 7.8 to 9.
Church Community Services Director Rod Roberson said child care in the community is not where it needs to be. For a parent looking to get a job, finding affordable, quality child care is vital.
"Someone can be on the right track, but it is a damaging blow if they can't find care for their children," he said. "This is an essential need for a family, because people can't take a job if they can't find someone to watch their kids."
Bill Reith, director of the United Way of Elkhart County, said he hopes state lawmakers pass a proposed pre-K pilot expansion that would provide more pre-K services statewide. The United Way and other partners have applied to offer programming as part of the pre-K pilot.