Syracuse holds meeting on childcare crisis
SYRACUSE - Syracuse Area Economic Development representative Carolyn Gigstad stated at the Child Care Crisis town hall meeting that she was pleased with the turn out.
Approximately 60 people were in attendance, from Young mothers and fathers looking for daycare to licensed daycare providers, employers and school officials.
Panelists led by Mayor Deb Dettmer said the problem is not localized to Syracuse and said 91 percent of the state has a child care shortage.
Economic developers say there are education and funds available to encourage anyone who would like to become a provider.
Syracuse residents are having to travel 20 miles and more for daycare. A Syracuse resident stated she drives from Syracuse to Lincoln for daycare and then back to Syracuse to work.
She added that it would be more feasible for her to relocate to Lincoln with $4 gas."
Shyann Walker, administrator at Little Angels Daycare Center, said staffing is major obstacle. She said the center in Syracuse is not at full capacity due to staffing shortages.
When the attendees were asked what they wanted to see besides daycare for the young, it was an after school center close to the school so that the children could walk there on their own, if need be.
Blue Rivers Area Agency on Aging has two buses for transportation, but has trouble staffing a second bus.
Gigstad said the economic development committee has been looking into buildings in the area suitable for daycares and resident Becki Neemann said a preschool/after school program has been a topic for the school district.
Gigstad said it takes three components for a community to grow – jobs, housing and daycare.
Economic Developer Dan Mauk closed by saying "this will not be fixed overnight. There will be many more meetings to follow and if anyone would like to add their name to the signup sheet to be a part of a childcare committee."
The panel also include City Administrator Jessica Meyer, Otoe County Communities for Kids coordinator Linsey Heard, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation’s Lindsay Bartlett, University of Nebraska extension specialist Hayley Jackson, Mike Feeken of First Five and school superintendent David Kraus.