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New study finds demand for early childcare slots in Kent County falls thousands short

Childcare facility
Childcare facility

Communities of color are disproportionately impacted by accessibility and cost.

Kent County has a deficit of 20,500 childcare slots. That’s the central finding in IFF’s study titled Split by More than the Grand River: How Uneven Access to Affordable Childcare Divides Kent County.

It finds the city of Grand Rapids has the highest gap (7,239 slots) in access for ages 0-5, followed by Wyoming (3,397), Kentwood (1,538), and Gaines township (1,191).

Not only is there not enough childcare in Kent County with only 10 of 30 cities and townships meeting capacity needs, IFF study authors wrote, “We also saw that communities with limited access to quality ECE were those with large BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) populations and economically challenged households.”

IFF, which is a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution, also points to affordability as a barrier to BIPOC communities. It cites the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and its baseline that families should spend no more than 7% of their household income on childcare. In Kent County that equates to $5,670. IFF crunched the numbers concluding the actual annual cost of childcare is nearly double that - and for families earning less than the median income - the gap between what they can afford and the actual cost of childcare is even wider.

Split by More Than the Grand River - How Uneven Access to Affordable Child Care Divides Kent County | IFF

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.