Challenges with child care?

I am the proud parent of two boys, age six and three. As we all know, kids bring challenges, joy, love and even a bit of craziness now and then. Our kids have also brought my wife and me into contact with a patchwork system of child care services. And I can tell you from my personal experience: finding quality, affordable child care is a real challenge.

1. Care is expensive. The state reports the average cost of care for two children as $25,234 per year in our county — more than two thousand dollars per month.

2. We don’t have enough care. In 2012, Montgomery County had 65,162 residents under the age of 5 in 2012 (Census). However, licensed child care providers in the county could only accept 26,719 children. That means we have 38,000 more children than licensed spaces.

3. We aren’t doing much about it. Out of 28 major school renovation or expansion projects in our school construction budget, only two are scheduled to include child care. More than 90% of these schools are not planning for space. We need to do better.

Child care has been a high priority for me during my time on the County Council. In 2012, I passed a law requiring the county to assess the feasibility of including child care in all of its new building projects, and I added an incentive for providing child care to our zoning code for new development.

In the current budget, I suggested to my colleagues that we require child care in every new school project unless it was found to be cost-prohibitive or impossible to fit in because of site conditions. And I have been working with child care providers to ensure fair procedures for bidding out public space to their programs.

But I know that we need to do more – much more. For that, I need your help. I know a lot of our residents grapple with these challenges. If you can spare a minute, please take my Survey on Child Care. I am looking to measure this problem and to gather ideas for how we can do better. And I know we can do better if we work together.