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Virginia’s approach to the persistent scarcity of daycare



Virginia – Finding and paying for daycare services is a challenge for many Virginian families, particularly those with small children. A Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) report states as much.

The persistent daycare issue is now being addressed by several proposals being considered by the Virginia legislature.

When the cost of childcare is 7% or less of a family’s income, it is deemed affordable. The average annual cost of childcare for a baby or toddler is close to $13,000, according to data from the Center for Early Success. That is more than three times the $3,574 median household income that is deemed affordable for families in Virginia’s Southside Region.

The executive director of the Center for Early Success clarified that childcare providers also struggle with that cost.

“You have to put that against what it takes for that childcare provider to be able to pay their employees to do all the things that they need to do and to be able to make even a slight profit with that margin,” Angela Wells said.

Families in Pittsylvania County and Danville are invited to participate in a survey aimed at assisting local leaders in creating childcare choices. Families can complete the survey through March 10th.

“A lot of times parents don’t know their options, so we’re working with parents to educate them on their options and what high-quality care looks like as well,” Wells said.

Botetourt County initiated a program in July 2023 to assist in filling the void in childcare services. The county and a tech business collaborated to assist new and small childcare providers.

Additionally, Bedford County has seen a dearth of daycare services. Following a countywide survey that found over 100 families were waiting for childcare services, the Bedford YMCA opened its doors in 2023.

According to the JLARC audit study, there is a projected 30,000 daycare spaces shortfall in Southwest Virginia. A Virginia House bill that has been presented would mandate that the Department of Education forecast and disclose the amount of money required to address continuous shortfalls.

It is presently being considered by the Senate after passing the Virginia House.

Governor Glenn Youngkin of Virginia announced back in December 2023 that approximately $450 million of the state budget would be allocated to improving daycare accessibility. The budget for Virginia hasn’t been decided yet, though.


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