There are 17,325 kids aged 5 and under in the city I live in, and room for less than 1/3rd of them in child care. That’s the finding of the 2008 Victoria’s Vital Signs report released this week by the Victoria Foundation, a local non-profit group dedicated to strengthening the community in the city I live in.
These number both illustrate and quantify the problem parents are having finding child care in Victoria. I suspect if this type of analysis was done in other regions, the findings would be similar.
Granted, not all of those 17,325 kids are going to require child care. Some will be at home with Mom, Dad or other relatives, usually supported by federal maternity and paternity benefits. But it’s hard to deny that the gap between what is out there and what is needed is significant.
Within less than a 10 month period (March 2007 to January 2008), our region has witnessed:
- a decrease of approximately 60 spaces for children aged birth to 5
- no new Group Child Care (Under 36 Months) centres created
- a net loss of 9% of Group Child Care spaces for infants and toddlers
- a decrease of approximately 133 spaces for children aged birth to 12
And while there has been an increase of 53 preschool spaces, the fact that the rest of the numbers are dropping, especially the 9% drop in infant toddler spaces, will added further anxiety to the families currently looking for childcare in Victoria.