By Katy Savage
Six people are moving away from Woodstock because they can’t find childcare and 27 families are still searching for childcare in Woodstock — the need is particularly acute for kids 3 and under — according to a survey from the Woodstock Economic Development Commission (EDC).
Area childcare programs are maxed out and the afterschool childcare program at Woodstock Elementary School doesn’t exist this year due to staff shortages.
“It’s housing, it’s wages, it’s personnel in general, it’s all these things and those are all part of the same pancake batter,” commission member Todd Ulman said at a meeting Oct. 6.
The lack of childcare is a statewide problem. An estimated 60% of Vermont’s children don’t have access to the care they need, according to Let’s Grow Kids.
Economic Development Commission (EDC) members met with all childcare providers in the area and plans to give $250,000 in grants to pay early education teachers higher salaries to grow their programs. Though EDC money is usually reserved only for Woodstock businesses and programs, EDC members agreed Oct. 6, to use part of the grant money to help grow Bridgewater Day Care.
“They have a fantastic facility and they’re very willing and open to work with us on providing what they hope could be a successful grant proposal to meaningfully impact the Woodstock families that are in need,” Ulman said.
Ulman added that 13 Woodstock families currently use the Bridgewater facility, which has 14 slots. “This is an infrastructure that’s broken,” he said. The EDC discussed the morality of using EDC money on a Bridgewater business, but agreed it would help solve a problem in Woodstock. “[Bridgewater] just happens to be located 700 yards in the wrong direction,” EDC chair Jon Spector said. “This can’t be called anything but a Woodstock child care program.”