Assembly considers child care options

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - A variety of options from using CBJ facilities to financial incentives were discussed as possible ways to solve the shortage of child care facilities in Juneau.

    There are 1,780 students that are in need of child care in Juneau.  There are currently 400 full-time and full-year childcare slots available.  Also there ,are 314 part-time part-year slots available.  There are about 400 spaces in non-licensed care facilities.

    There are 421 infants in need of care, 460 toddlers and 898 preschool kids.  The greatest need comes in the infant category with 74% of them in need of daycare.

    A childcare center run by Tlingit Haida will be operated out of the Juneau Christian Center School.  The facility is being staffed to care for about 20 infants, 24 toddlers, and 20 preschoolers.   A childcare center recently closed at Mendenhall Mall.

    The CBJ could conceivably make facilities they own available for child care like modular units at Floyd Dryden at a cost of $150,000 for about 60 children, modular units at Mendenhall River Community Schools at a cost of about $110,000 for 40 students, and Mt. Jumbo for 60 children at a cost of $750,000.

    Other options at non-CBJ facilities include faith-based facilities.  A number of churches have building designs that makes them suitable for child care.  "It wouldn't take that many financial resources to do this," Barr said.  He said $25,000 per year could help them operate a child-care facility.

    It would cost about $5,500 per month to lease commercial space for a child care facility to house 60 kids.

    Another option is property tax exemptions for child care programs in private homes.  The CBJ could also consider stipends per hour or per child to child care programs.  Providers could be eligible if they are open for eight hours a day, 48 weeks per year for the hourly stipend.  For the per child stipend, providers would have to open for six hours per day.

    Another option is the Hearts program expansion.   The costs could range from $91,000 in fiscal year 2021 to serve 75 kids, to $403,000 in fiscal year 2025 to serve 175 kids.

    Other options are an early childhood education coach who works with childcare center staff on a rotating basis to support and foster a quality, age-appropriate, learning environment.  This person would be placed at AEYC.  The estimated cost is between $75,000 in fiscal year 2021 to $84,413 in fiscal year 2025.

    An administrative assistant could assist with payments and program tracking.  The cost would be $40,000 in fiscal year 2021 to $45,020 in fiscal year 2025.

    Another option is a community training partnership to create a pipeline for childcare workers that would cost $50,000 per year.  The CBJ could also consider training grants to centers and/or individuals to cover the cost of training hours.  One barrier to attending training is the need to take classes after work or lose pay if attending during the work day.  The estimated cost is $50,000 per year.

    Assembly Member Loren Jones said it is important to have a trained workforce because they will earn a higher wage and are more likely to stick around.  This will reduce the amount of time spent on employee turnover and getting them up to speed.  He suggested it would also increase the quality of the programs.

    A possible childcare program at the State Department of Administration Office building has been scrapped due to a lack of space.




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