Join us Saturday, February 24 from 9:30AM – 12PM at the Cordova Center for the Cordova Childcare Solutions Forum, where we’ll be sharing information on licensing, start-up resources, informal childcare options, and a community round table discussion. Free Pediatric CPR/First Aid training will be available Friday, February 23rd from 12:30PM – 5PM for a limited number of participants.
Childcare is a fundamental pillar of family well-being and community health, allowing parents to work or pursue education while knowing that their children are in a safe environment conducive to learning and growth. Childcare services are struggling nationwide, and the challenge of accessing childcare is even more pronounced in rural areas, where options are limited and costs can be high.
In Alaska, children ages 0-8 make up 13% of the state's population, about 94,000 young residents. 46,600 of these children live in households where an adult would either enter the workforce or work additional hours if reliable childcare were available, a gap that is even more pronounced in rural areas. Nearly 29% of children under age 6 in rural Alaska live at or below the federal poverty level, significantly higher than the 12% in urban areas, further highlighting the urgent need for targeted support and innovative solutions in our small communities.
The recovery of Alaska's childcare sector as a whole has lagged behind other industries, facing obstacles in raising wages or providing competitive incentives to retain employees. This challenge has a significant economic impact, as evidenced by a Alaska Chamber of Commerce survey which found that childcare issues have resulted in 77% of parents missing work time, costing employers approximately $111 million annually.
Recognizing this need, local initiatives and forums are being organized across the state to address these challenges head-on. The upcoming Cordova Childcare Solutions Forum aims to address the community's unique needs by bringing together childcare experts, stakeholders, and community members to discuss innovative solutions, share best practices, and explore resources for prospective childcare providers. The forum will feature free pediatric CPR/First Aid training provided by the Cordova Volunteer Fire Department, as well as short presentations and Q&A opportunities with Cynthia West from the State of Alaska's Healthy and Equitable Communities Team, Kristin Ramstad from Chugachmuit's Tribal Home Visiting Program, and Thread, Alaska's statewide childcare resource and referral network. This initiative reflects a broader effort to bridge Alaska's child care gap, as the State of Alaska Child Care Program Office works with these organizations and others to provide training, support, and financial assistance to childcare providers.
For those in Cordova and similar communities, engaging in these conversations is a crucial step toward building robust childcare infrastructure. By participating in forums like this and exploring the resources to become a licensed childcare provider, Alaskans can contribute to a stronger, more resilient childcare infrastructure. Addressing our needs through collaborative solutions will help ensure that all children, especially those in our rural areas, have access to the quality care and early learning opportunities essential to their growth and development.
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