Report: Shortage of licensed child care in Jackson Co.

JACKSON COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - There is a need for child care facilities in Jackson County.

A new report by Child Care Aware of Northcentral Arkansas revealed there is a critical licensed child care shortage in Jackson County for school age kids.

"I have friends who are not even pregnant, just thinking about having babies who are on a child care list here in town," said Amy Thaxton, mother of three and assistant principal at Newport Elementary School.

Thaxton moved to Newport last year and said it was easy to find child care for her 3-year-old daughter, but not for her infant twin girls.

"It was nowhere for them to go," Thaxton said. "It has been very stressful, we made many phone calls, we hoped and prayed that grandparents would be able to do it and that just didn't work out."

Thaxton said they traveled to Oil Trough everyday to the Cedar Ridge School District,which has an ABC program and an early childcare program.

"We needed more care that would last later and I could get to my children on time," she said.

Thaxton decided to go with a neighbor down the street.

"She keeps my girls now at home but there is not available at any day care here in town," she said.

Thaxton said she has friends who are thinking about having a baby and have already put their name on the waiting list."

"Just hoping to save a spot so if they do get pregnant they can have a spot to send their babies," she said.

Debbie Webb is the program director for Child Care Aware of Northcentral Arkansas and said right now there is a critical shortage in Jackson County.

"We have zero vacancies right now for the traditional hours of care.And that means for all ages, from birth to school age," she said.

A few weeks ago Webb had a brainstorming session with county and city leaders.

"We know there are some family child care facilities that are family child care homes that are out there doing informal and unregulated care and we'd really like to reach them," Webb told Region 8 News.

She said they had a child care providers fair last week.

"The bottom line, the floor, the foundation is the availability of child care and if you do not have the availability of child care you are not going to have the labor force in order to have the community," Webb said.

If you are interested in becoming a licensed child care provider, you can reach out to Child Care Aware at or 1-800-737-2237.

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