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Child Care Demand Outpaces Open Slots

The demand for child care slots is at an all time high around the nation. Angela Manese – Lee of the Roanoke Times wrote an excellent article about this demand; she follows the ebb and flow of the nation’s child care crisis, citing examples in the River Valley area. “The problems providers face are huge”, she explains, “from the high cost of care and tricky business model to the growing demand and lack of community awareness.”

BLACKSBURG — It’s mid-morning at Rainbow Riders Childcare Center in Blacksburg, and seven toddlers are making a run on a collection of telephone receivers strewn across the Orange Room’s brightly colored carpet.

Shunning the books and baby dolls that fill nearby crates, Luke Poff reaches for a phone, lifts it to his ear and grins.

He has reason to be happy — and not just because of the toys.

Luke occupies one of the most in-demand spots in the New River Valley: He’s a toddler with full-time child care.

For years, full-day care at licensed centers such as Rainbow Riders has been a scarce commodity in the region. But now, experts say, the situation is heading for a crisis.

While the community continues to grow, child-care resources have started to dwindle. In the past six months, four centers have closed or announced they will close. A couple more are rumored to be contemplating a similar move.

In an effort to address — and bring attention to — the decline, the New River Valley Coalition for Children and Families has begun rallying together child-care providers, holding forums and encouraging a strategic approach to advocacy. The problems providers face are huge, from the high cost of care and tricky business model to the growing demand and lack of community awareness.

“What our coalition is concerned with is how much further are we going to go in crisis in this community before the bottom falls out?” said Kristi Snyder, coalition member and Rainbow Riders administrator. “And what happens to our local economy if the child-care centers can’t remain open?”

By all accounts, the gap between the amount of child care available and the amount needed is as wide as it’s ever been. Read the full article here > >

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