School-Childcare Partnerships May Be Solution to “Childcare Desert”

Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 12:59 PM EDT
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CARIBOU, Maine (WAGM) -

Finding reliable childcare has been a problem that has plagued the county, and the entire state since before the pandemic, but what can be done to make childcare more accessible? NewsSource8′s Brian Bouchard looks at one partnership that may have the answer.

“We are living in a childcare desert.”

Jordyn Rossignol, Director and Owner of Miss Jordyn’s Child Care and Preschool, says there is a dire need for accessible childcare in the county.

“I’m receiving calls daily from parents begging me to take their children, and I just don’t have space and I also don’t have enough staff to care for these children.”

Rossignol has been working with RSU 39 Superintendent Tim Doak to work on a solution.

“I think it’s something we’ve been talking about for over a year and half now, since COVID hit and we saw the importance of childcare, and the importance of mom and dad being able to stay at work and not have to stay home with kids. We’re looking at ways that we can partner with our area childcare systems and maybe at some point create our own childcare venue right at our school department.”

Doak says accessible childcare is not just an issue for parents with young children, it affects the entire community.

“It affects businesses and organizations because when your employees have to 1: stay home because there’s no childcare, that makes it very tough on the business or the organization and 2: I really think there are times that without this ability for these businesses to have, they wont have workers, and when you don’t have workers, it’s very hard on the economy, it’s very hard on our systems as a community without workers”

Rossignol and Doak shared their ideas with Department of Education Commissioner Pender Makin, as she paid a visit to the county to discuss challenges facing child care providers across the state.

“We do need to work together and everyone’s best interests are served when the kids have some kind of stable continuum of supports and childcare is critical, early childhood education is critical, we have many resources that can blend together and foster these partnerships.”

Makin says the idea of a partnership between schools and childcare providers is not unique to Aroostook County, as many districts elsewhere in the state have already implemented similar programs.

“We have many school districts that partner with local childcare providers, large centers, little home childcare providers. A lot of cases they provide space in the school for that to happen, and the partnerships are as different and unique as our communities are.”

The group realizes that partnerships like this may be difficult for smaller school districts, or districts where childcare providers aren’t available, but they hope that this type of partnerships can one day bridge the childcare gap in areas around Aroostook County.

Brian Bouchard, NewsSource8

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