Study Being Conducted to Determine Level of Need
Employers Asked to Circulate Study to Employees This Week
(FONDA, NY) – Childcare is consistently cited by employers and employees as a barrier that prevents some from taking advantage of the large number of employment opportunities available in the community. The need for quality, available childcare has only been enhanced in recent months, as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many employers to shift operations to work-from-home setups, and families have been faced with the challenges of working, caring for young children, and ensuring continued distance-learning for school-aged children.
The convergence of these issues has been at the forefront for Montgomery County Executive Matthew L. Ossenfort and the staff at the Business Development Center since childcare availability was raised by multiple employers during the inaugural meeting of the County’s Business Advisory Committee earlier this year. Since then, county officials have been working with leaders in the business community and non-profit organizations to explore the feasibility of developing a new childcare facility in the Amsterdam area, along the Route 5S corridor – the central business hub in the county.
“While the pandemic has upended much of our daily lives, as a working father myself, I know childcare availability has been a long-standing issue for many families in our community,” said County Executive Ossenfort. “It’s really a multifaceted issue, because the inability to access childcare can prevent otherwise hard-working people from entering the workforce, and it keeps our local businesses from being able to attract talent who often consider the accessibility of childcare when looking at employment opportunities.
“Having an open dialogue with our business community and other key stakeholders helped us identify this problem and it has become even more apparent since the global pandemic hit our community in March. It’s why we started the Advisory Committee, to hear about the real-world issues facing employers and put together comprehensive solutions that meet the needs of our community,” Ossenfort said.
The study, being circulated to area employers this week, will examine trends among working parents in the community, existing options for childcare and the potential impact of a new facility on the community. The results of those surveys, along with other data being collected by Camoin Associates of Saratoga, will be aggregated into a comprehensive study and planning document for the County.
“We know a number of our companies are adapting to a new business environment and many are dealing with employees who have been balancing childcare issues for a long time. Thanks to strong partnerships between the business community and our office, we’ve been able to identify potential partner agencies and review existing assets that can be leveraged. This has the potential to provide the greatest benefit for families and some of our largest employers. We’re working hard to gather the necessary data so we can get a true sense of the needs and desires of those who live and work in Montgomery County,” said Business Development Center CEO Ken Rose, whose office is spearheading the initiative and will be coordinating distribution of the survey.
“Childcare availability also remains a top issue for new employers who might be thinking of making a home in Montgomery County. We’ve had success attracting major brands like Dollar General, Target and Amazon, but to help us attract a more diverse workforce with a variety of skillsets and education, we need to have the resources that meet their needs, and the needs of their employees. We think this project has huge potential and we’re anxious to advance on it, if the survey finds that there is a demand,” Rose said.
In the coming week, local business leaders will be receiving an electronic copy of the study to share with employees. As part of the exploration process, the Business Development Center has started reviewing how it could leverage an existing, county-owned asset as a location for a childcare facility.
Those wishing to complete the survey can do so by visiting: www.MontgomeryCountyWorks.com/childcare-survey/.