Two weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be invited on a tour of several area childcare facilities with the Child Care Task Force. We toured these places in an effort to understand challenges and discuss solutions to the growing childcare need in our community. In all, we visited four area childcare facilities: New Beginnings Child Care, Fuzzy Bear Ministry Preschool & Daycare, Rainbows & Rhymes and North Montgomery Early Learning Academy at Pleasant Hill. I learned a lot and was inspired by this group for the work they are doing to make a positive impact in our community.
For those of you unfamiliar, the Child Care Task Force was organized in 2018 when members of Mayor Barton’s workforce roundtable group realized that lack of childcare was a common issue with area businesses. The workforce roundtable members learned that area businesses were struggling with employee absences and productivity issues due to lack of affordable quality childcare. As a result of the findings, the task force has implemented a two-fold process: a detailed analysis of the childcare sector will culminate with a specific plan to address the needs.
At this time, the task force is in the important data collection stage and they need the help of our community to get the most accurate data. For parents in need of childcare, this is an opportunity to weigh in and let your needs be known. The task force is conducting a needs assessment and is also planning for focus groups. They have surveyed employers and employees. Last week, a parent survey was sent out. Those parent surveys are available online at https://www.mccf-in.org/ or at the Montgomery County Community Foundation office at 119 E. Main Street, Crawfordsville. Any parent with childcare aged children is encouraged to take the survey. Once the surveys are completed, the data will be analyzed, and the task force will craft a strategic plan with action steps to fulfill the needs identified in those surveys.
In addition, the task force will begin conducting focus groups in the next couple of weeks. Anyone interested in participating is urged to contact Kelly Taylor at MCCF at 362.1267 or kelly@mccf-in.org for more information. The group is speaking with Head Start families, 2nd shift employees and general parent groups in an effort to identify our community’s needs.
I participated in the child care facility tour as a supporter of the Montgomery County Child Care Task Force and was not only struck by the amazing people working together to make affordable, quality childcare in our community a reality for all families, but I was also struck by the fact that the process they are going through is so well planned. We talk about strategy and planning a lot, and this is yet another illustration of the effectiveness of having a well thought out plan and most significantly, collaborating with others.
The task force hopes to have all data collected by the end of October and they hope to have an actionable plan by January of 2020. There is still a lot to do, but this team is up for the challenge. They are doing great work and our community will benefit significantly.
The Child Care Task Force is comprised of members of The City of Crawfordsville, the Montgomery County Community Foundation, Wabash College, LSC Communications, Fuzzy Bear Ministries, Penguin Random House, Pace Dairy, area school Superintendents, Ivy Tech Community College, Chances & Services for Youth, Economic Development, Hoosier Heartland State Bank, Montgomery County United Fund, residents and early learning experts. You can learn more about the childcare initiative by visiting https://www.mccf-in.org/ or calling 362.1267.

John Frey is a Montgomery County Commissioner and can be reached at john.frey@montgomerycounty.in.gov. And check out the Commish Facebook page @montgomerycountycommish.