A Triple Benefit with Affordable Childcare
As I've discussed in conversations with our neighbors around town, and online, the way I can best help Barrington is by identifying opportunities to improve programs and services offered by the town, through collaboration. I will work to ensure we can realize these opportunities in a way that adds value, without a matching increase in our tax bills. Here is some background and a general design for a program that will create three direct benefits while remaining cost neutral for the town. The three benefits are:
Create more affordable childcare opportunities for Barrington families
Incentivize expansion for a segment of the small business community
Provide an additional tax credit opportunity for Barrington seniors, and potentially a broader group
Enrolling a child in a safe, engaging, and local daycare or preschool program is an invaluable opportunity for families. It alleviates the need for a parent to remain home with their child(ren), while ensuring they are well taken care of. It also provides the opportunity for young children to develop important social skills and the ability to follow a schedule. It helps ensure children spend time with other kids and care providers who look different and speak differently than they do.
Childcare is expensive, often prohibitively so. The cost of childcare is actually the number one reason cited by young adults (source: NYT) for why they have or expect to have fewer kids than planned. This obstacle prevents parents of young children from earning money that could be used to enhance their child’s life and education, at best, or simply to pay bills and put food on the table. It prevents children from benefiting from time with other kids, learning from other grown ups, and seeing other role models.
Cost of Providing Care
The high cost of childcare is not without justification. It can be easy to forget that preschools and daycare facilities are also small businesses. Like all small businesses, the costs to provide services is increasingly rising. Staffing ratios are set by regulations, and many quality preschools seek to have a better ratio than the requisite minimum. In addition to staffing costs, the cost of books, supplies and equipment remain high, and new costs in technology and security are being added regularly.
These costs stifle business growth, which further limits future opportunities.
An Opportunity for Seniors
Barrington has the good fortune to have many residents who have lived here, and paid taxes here, for several decades. The seniors in our town have a lot to share with the community, whether it’s the experiences of raising a family here, knowledge of the local history, or the hobbies they have taken up in retirement. Many who have retired are living on a fixed income, and see their daily expenses, and property taxes, rising each year at a greater rate than the social security cost of living adjustments.
Synergy for The Three
Our town has a tremendous culture of volunteerism. Whether through TAPIN, our many active PTOs, sports leagues or elsewhere, Barrington residents chip in to help out. This excellent trait of ours can be leveraged to solve these three challenges with one program.
Barrington seniors can volunteer with local preschool and daycare centers. These volunteers would supplement professional staff needs at the childcare facilities, allowing the schools to grow and enroll more children without costing as much as would typically be needed. A portion of the savings would be used to provide discounted or no-cost enrollment for a portion of the additional openings at the childcare center. In recognition of their involvement, the seniors who volunteer would receive an additional property tax credit.
Depending on interest level of both the volunteers and childcare centers, the program could be opened to all seniors who are interested, a need-based subset, or it could be expanded beyond seniors to a wider group.