CHARLESTON, W.Va. — What are your kids doing this summer?
Parents and other caregivers scrambling to line up summer child care before the end of county school years in the coming weeks can find some options online with help from West Virginia Forward, a collaboration aimed at growing the Mountain State’s economy.
More than 250 accredited summer programs are now listed HERE.
“This is a first,” said Rochelle Goodwin, West Virginia Forward member and West Virginia University senior associate vice president for academic and public strategy.
“We knew it was a need.”
The summer care list includes programs offered through WVU, Marshall University and elsewhere.
“We wanted to make it a little bit easier by gathering that information for parents so they can find the right opportunities in their counties or in local areas,” Goodwin told MetroNews.
In a state with low workforce participation, she said dependent care is an economic issue that more than four dozen business, non-profits, foundations and individual have partnered to try to address.
“We’ve heard from employers and working families alike that the lack of dependent care, reliable care for children has an effect on workforce productivity and even whether parents and caregivers can get to work,” said Goodwin.
“We also hear from parents and grandparents who are caregivers that it’s difficult to find the right kinds of services.”
To address those needs, the summer list is planned as just the start of a larger care connection effort.
Before the end of this year, a West Virginia Forward pilot online mapping project in Wood County for licensed day care centers and in-home care could expand statewide.
Such comprehensive mapping would highlight gaps in services, according to Goodwin.
Additionally, a goal would be to create a “better, more creative economic model” so that, when day cares open, they can continue to operate.
“We know that families want to be able to support themselves, their communities and actually also support the economic prosperity of the state,” said Goodwin.
“That can only happen when workers have the peace of mind and the ability to go to work on a daily basis and know that their loved ones are cared for (in safe spaces).”
Friday is National Child Care Provider Day.