Sentinel Opinion: Homegrown solution; Program gives a boost to addressing the region's child-care shortage

Keene Sentinel

While it’s a credit to the state that it ranks first in the nation on measures of child well-being, according to the 2023 Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, New Hampshire continues to be challenged by lack of access to affordable child care.

It’s a problem affecting both young families and an economy struggling to find workers. And it’s reached the crisis stage.

Among parents of young children responding to the 2022 N.H. Family Needs Assessment Survey, three-quarters said they had searched for child care in the past year, and half reported the search was difficult, most often due to a lack of openings. The state needs at least 21,000 additional child-care slots, according to the Concord-based nonprofit New Futures.

Two local leaders have moved beyond the hand-wringing stage to take action to provide the child care parents need to re-enter the workforce. Alexa Plewa, director of the Cheshire Children’s Museum, and Cody Morrison, executive director of the Monadnock Economic Development Corp., are working diligently to change the landscape of Cheshire County’s child-care desert.

Launched by Plewa earlier this year with $1 million in federal funds, the Bringing It Home Project offers grants to participants who provide child care in their homes. MEDC acts as a lender and grant-awarding agency.

Additionally, MEDC recently received $500,000 in tax credits from the N.H. Community Development Finance Authority for the program, specifically to retrofit homes for child care.

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