Early Education

We know that Utah’s child care crisis is bad, and is going to get worse. New data helps illustrate exactly how bad the situation is, in each county across the state. 

Next week Voices for Utah Children will release a report titled, “Mapping Care for Kids: A County-Level Look at Utah’s Crisis in Licensed Child Care.” The report includes more detailed county-level analysis and data highlighting the inaccessibility of care and financial challenges faced by families and child care professionals. In addition, the report includes policy recommendations for Utah leaders to help resolve this crisis. 

The full report will be available the week of October 23rd, but as a teaser, this blog highlights some key findings from the report.

There is insufficient licensed child care in Utah to meet the needs of working families.

Licensed child care program capacity is only sufficient to serve about 36% of all children under six whose parents are working. Parents face shortages in every county statewide, with rural families struggling most.

The high cost of child care makes it even less accessible to low- and middle-income families, and rural families struggle most.

The average annual cost of care for two children under the age of six (one infant/toddler, one preschool-aged child) for a Utah family costs about 17% of a 4-person family’s income. Cost varies little between rural and urban counties, but on average household median incomes are lower in rural areas. In Grand County, with the state’s lowest median annual income at $42,654, the cost of care for a family of four would comprise about 41% of a family’s income.

Child care providers receive insufficient compensation, and have few incentives to stay in the field.

Child care providers typically earn low wages and very limited benefits. The median hourly wage for child care professionals in Utah is just $12.87 per hour ($26,770/year), less than they could make as professional dog walkers. The poverty rate among child care providers in Utah is 23.1%, more than 8 times higher than that of K-8 teachers. 

With substantial public investment, Utah’s licensed child care capacity has grown significantly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thanks to federal funding streams totaling nearly $600 million, licensed child care capacity in Utah has grown by approximately 31% since March 2020. This growth is due primarily to child care stabilization grants made directly to licensed child care providers; those grants recently were reduced by 75%. Utah has been identified as one of six states that could see half or more of all licensed child care programs statewide close with the end of the stabilization grants.

Licensed child care is insufficient in every county in Utah, though the level of unmet need varies from place to place.

 

How does child care access and affordability compare in each county?
Statewide Beaver County
Box Elder County Cache County
Carbon County Daggett County
Davis County Duchesne County
Emery County  Garfield County
Grand County Iron County
Juab County Kane County
Millard County Morgan County
Piute County Rich County
Salt Lake County San Juan County
Sanpete County Sevier County
Summit County Tooele County
Uintah County Utah County
Wasatch County Washington County
Wayne County Weber County

  

Our full report, “Mapping Care for Kids: A County-Level Look at Utah’s Crisis in Licensed Child Care” will be released the week of October 23rd. For questions about the report, this blog, or sources and methodology, please contact Jenna Williams at . For more information on efforts to improve Utah’s child care system or learn about the child care advocacy network, visit utahchildren.org/issues/early-childhood-education and utahcareforkids.org.

Published in News & Blog
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