Local organization helps struggling parents pay for childcare


BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) — Families around the world are struggling to keep up. If gas and rent increases weren’t enough, many parents face another worry: how to pay for child care.

At Hawk’s Nest Learning Tree in Lynn Haven, the price to pay to stay open is high.

“Even the cost of supplies has gone up, making it difficult to meet the basic needs of children,” said Jaimie Young, owner and manager of Hawk’s Nest Learning Tree.

Hiring was even more difficult.

“That’s the biggest problem we have is getting a job because most people can go to work on the streets for more,” Young said.

The daycare has only been open for a year, and already Young said it had to raise its prices by about $25. And she’s not the only one.

“I think it’s probably safe to assume that child care is probably looking at a 25% to 35% increase,” said Suzan Gage, executive director of the Early Learning Coalition of Northwest Florida.

It’s a hard pill to swallow for parents on a tight budget.

“Because it can cost between $175 and $350 depending on the age of the child and that’s per week. So times two kids and someone making $15, $16, $17 an hour, you’re spending the majority of your take-home pay on child care,” Gage said. “So families have to ask this tough question, you know, is it worth it?”

That’s a question the Early Learning Coalition of Northwest Florida is making sure no parent has to answer. The organization uses public funds to help struggling families pay for quality child care. But even then, finding a center with an opening in Bay County can seem nearly impossible.

“So in Bay County, child care is big business. We’re kind of in a child care shortage,” Gage said.

Hawk’s Nest currently has over 500 families on a waiting list. But Young said she hopes with better pay, she can recruit more people to care for those children.

For more information on whether you are eligible for assistance from the Early Learning Coalition of Northwest Florida, you can go here.

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