April 21, 2023
Mind the gap: Whatcom providers face challenges in meeting need for childcare
Kai Uyehara

Preschool teachers such as Julie Flores face their share of challenges — including caring for their own families on low wages — but the entire local economy is impacted by the deep shortage in placement availability, as employers struggle to attract and retain workers. (Kai Uyehara / Salish Current image © 2023)

April 21, 2023
Mind the gap: Whatcom providers face challenges in meeting need for childcare
Kai Uyehara

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What does it take to educate, entertain and nurture Whatcom County’s young?

In a business that struggles to operate, childcare tuition prices are high, childcare slots are in short supply, and care centers pay their caregivers just enough to keep them working.

Childcare tuition in Whatcom County can exceed $13,000 a year per child and, because of a shortage of about 5,000 childcare slots, waiting lists are filled months in advance.

Meet Julie Flores, lead teacher at James Street Child Development Center in Bellingham. On the business side, meet Kathy Westover, its owner and director; and Jonathan Hanson, owner, and Kendra Lee, director, of Bellingham’s A Child’s Life Learning Center.

Whatcom County’s Healthy Child Fund will begin funneling millions into childcare resources to fill the gap of staff, money and children’s needs. Will that make the difference?

— Reported by Kai Uyehara

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