June 16, 2024

Residents hope for more daycare options

The last few years, Creston residents have had trouble finding daycare. While I Think I Can is an option, there is often a waiting list and not all the needed hours, according to Brittney Smith.

Smith is a stay-at-home mother to two daughters, ages six and three, previously working as a surgical nurse at Greater Regional Health until childcare became too much of an issue. Between being on-call for days at a time and surgeries going late, Smith often had problems with consistent daycare for her children.

“I had an at-home babysitter and her hours were 6:45 a.m. to 4 p.m., so if I ever got called in early in the mornings for a surgery, I would have to have my husband take time off from work in the morning and go in late,” Smith said.

When her babysitter was busy, Smith often had to take time off of work, which negatively impacted her career.

“I could work a lot of the time,” Smith said. “I felt like I was really excluded from things at work and higher opportunities because I wasn’t reliable to them in those after hours.”

When the babysitter eventually retired, Smith switched to part-time work. This brought out different issues when searching for childcare.

“I would work about two to three days a week, but then I was faced with my children being a drop-in on off days,” Smith said. “I would have to pay a higher rate to be a drop-in. It just became super difficult.”

This search for childcare started before Smith’s children were even born.

“I started looking for childcare when I was four months pregnant,” Smith said. “I looked and looked everywhere. I was on a waitlist for two years. Being a small town, we don’t have as many in-home daycares and then we only have I Think I Can. The last time I called them, they had a wait list of 30 kids, so there’s no way I could even get in there for a drop-in.”

Melissa Zellmer, director of I Think I Can Care Center, said the need for more hours and more space is being incorporated into the new Greater Connections Childcare Center. Facilities are open from 5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The new childcare center, opening this summer, will be licensed for more than 50 children over the existing maximum.

“I think we are just trying to meet the ends of the people who work 12 hour shifts,” Zellmer said. “Just adding 30 minutes can help if somebody works out of town.”

Actually incorporating daycare hours for people who work second or third shift would prove to be a little more difficult, Zellmer says. She explained that it would require more and different licensing than what they are currently able to offer.

Smith hopes that someone in town will eventually open a childcare center for non-traditional childcare hours.

“I think opening another center more around drop-ins and after 6 p.m. would be something we should explore,” Smith said. “I know it’s very difficult financial to open up another daycare, but I think it would be the ideal scenario.”

Erin Henze

Originally from Wisconsin, Erin is a recent graduate from UW-Stevens Point. Outside of writing, she loves to read and travel.