An initiative from Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton has resulted in a countywide childcare needs assessment and strategic planning process. The two-fold project will consist of a detailed analysis of the childcare sector and climate in Montgomery County and will culminate with a specific plan to address issues affecting both access to and a lack of childcare currently impacting residents.
“For the past couple of years, the topic of childcare became more prominent during our annual business visits,” Barton said. “Employers were voicing concerns about productivity issues caused by associates missing work due to childcare. When the same topic entered the discussion at the monthly workforce roundtable, we knew we needed to do something because this isn’t just a childcare issue, it’s a workforce issue too,” Barton said.
By mid-2018, members of the mayor’s workforce roundtable decided to spin off a childcare task force. Since that time, a list of known providers throughout the county has been compiled. In addition, the task force held an information gathering and networking dinner for area childcare providers that looked at the results of a 2012 Wabash College childcare study to see how it impacted current efforts. And a 2018 statewide economic impact report from Early Learning Indiana was reviewed.
A 16-person childcare task force has been created for the current project. One of the members, Community Foundation Executive Director Kelly Taylor says access to childcare is a priority for her organization.
“During our community listening sessions this summer, we heard numerous times how access to childcare and the quality of care is of concern to our residents,” Taylor said. “As we shared our findings with the task force, the team felt strongly that an effective strategy could not be developed without an assessment of the issues surrounding childcare.”
Recently the task force reviewed and vetted proposals for the project and selected Transform Consulting Group based in Wabash, Ind. The firm has experience with state-wide childcare and early childhood learning initiatives, as well as specializes in county-wide childcare needs assessments and strategic plans.
“Collaboration will be the key to a successful project,” Barton explained. “If the level of stakeholder engagement we experienced with raising the funds to pay for the project is any indicator, then we are off to a fantastic start.”
While the childcare task force will be leading the effort, it will be a community-engaged process, and when complete will provide a road map for moving towards a sustainable solution to the childcare issue facing Montgomery County.
Following are the members of the childcare task force:
Brandy Allen, City of Crawfordsville
Kelly Taylor & Cheryl Keim, Montgomery County Community Foundation
Megan Purcell, resident & early childhood learning expert
Preston Bost, Wabash College
Kim Keeling, LSC Communications
Kim McVay, Fuzzy Bear Ministries
Bonnie Mann, Penguin Random House
Rick Hernandez, Crawfordsville / Montgomery County Chamber
Tracy Mobley & Lori Holt, Pace Dairy
Colleen Moran, North Montgomery School Superintendent
Haley Kunkel, Ivy Tech Community College
Kati Colvin, Chances & Services for Youth
Cheryl Morphew, CRMorphew Consulting
Brad Monts, Hoosier Heartland State Bank
Brian Campbell, Montgomery County United Fund
Gwen Carlson, resident