Knox County is working with several other southwest Indiana counties to better understand the region’s supply and demand for childcare. Knox County Indiana Economic Development says it has joined the Southern Indiana Gateway region to support the effort.
In addition to Knox County, the region includes Crawford, Dubois, Orange, Perry, Pike, and Spencer counties. The region earned the 21st Century Talent Region designation last year, a statewide initiative that supports regions as they build and implement plans to increase educational attainment, raise household income and grow population.
The economic development organization says it joined the collaborative to help support efforts for more in-depth data on the availability of childcare. The region is partnering with Transform Consulting Group, a consulting firm in Wabash, to gather up-to-date data on the number and types of childcare seats available within each county.
“From an economic development perspective, it is critical to understand supply in terms of how many seats actually meet the needs of working parents,” said Erin Emerson, executive director of the Perry County Development Corp. “Lack of access to childcare is negatively impacting the daily lives and decisions of residents in our region and the productivity and bottom lines of local businesses as well as severely limiting our regional growth potential.”
The organization cites Early Learning Indiana’s Closing the Gap Report, which estimated that “existing capacity across all programs can serve just over half of all the population of children aged 0 to 5 who may be in need of care” and that rural counties are more likely to have inadequate access.
The organization plans to focus on data collection over the next couple of months and will release a final report in July.