FONDA — Montgomery County is exploring the feasibility of developing a new child care facility along the Route 5S corridor, and has launched a study to examine the need among area families.
A survey was posted online Tuesday and is being circulated to area employers this week, and Montgomery County Business Development Center CEO Ken Rose said in a phone interview that those results will help the county gauge what steps it should take going forward.
It’s an issue that Rose said is constantly mentioned in meetings with county businesses, and one that’s been compounded in recent months with the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Child care comes up numerous times, almost with every company, in regards to some of the challenges their employees face,” Rose said. “That’s finding available child care that potentially meets their needs, the shifts they may be working and, obviously, with everything going on with more potential remote learning at the various school districts and employees potentially working from home. It’s going to become more of a major issue, and we’re trying to get a gauge as to how that’s affecting various employees that work throughout our county.”
The county has contracted with Camoin Associates of Saratoga Springs to help analyze the results of the survey and help to provide a potential future blueprint.
In a news release announcing the initiative, Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort highlighted the importance of available child care, especially in the unpredictable environment that’s been fostered during the pandemic.
“While the pandemic has upended much of our daily lives, as a working father myself, I know child care availability has been a longstanding issue for many families in our community,” Ossenfort said. “It’s really a multifaceted issue, because the inability to access childcare can prevent otherwise hard-working people from entering the workforce, and it keeps our local businesses from being able to attract talent who often consider the accessibility of childcare when looking at employment opportunities.
“Having an open dialogue with our business community and other key stakeholders helped us identify this problem and it has become even more apparent since the global pandemic hit our community in March. It’s why we started the Advisory Committee, to hear about the real-world issues facing employers and put together comprehensive solutions that meet the needs of our community.”
Rose acknowledged that the pandemic will likely create a “fluid situation” over the next few months when it comes to child care, especially as area school districts prepare for an academic year that will feature differing plans for in-person and virtual learning at every county district.
This study, he said, will provide a snapshot of what kind of child care options area residents are seeking.
“This will at least give us what the demand is,” Rose said.
If the demand is great enough, Rose said the Business Development Center will look to explore options for developing county-owned assets — most likely on the Route 5S corridor near Amsterdam, the county’s major business hub — into a child care facility.
“We own property up in that 5S corridor, where there’s 2 or 3,000 employees on a daily basis,” Rose said. “It’s centrally located, particularly for the eastern half of the county, and we could potentially look to do something there that would alleviate some of that strain that employees are facing.”
The survey can be completed online at www.montgomerycountyworks.com/childcare-survey.
“The push just started [Tuesday] with this,” Rose said. “We’ll give it a couple weeks to see what the response rate is and then evaluate those results.”
Reach Adam Shinder at [email protected] or @Adam_Shinder on Twitter.