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Emmet County childcare survey is first step to finding solutions

Kelli McClintock

Parents in Emmet County are being asked to fill out a survey detailing their childcare service experience.

It’s part of an effort to find sustainable solutions to meet the demand for care. The goal of the survey is to compare county data with state and national trends to find solutions.

Emmet is like most counties across the state. Parents with babies up to three are struggling to find childcare and are stuck on waitlists for months and, in some cases, years.

Jennifer Wixson is an early childhood educator at North Central Michigan College and leading the survey effort. She said the preliminary results have already taught her a lot.

"It's quite surprising at how many of our respondents rely on what we would call informal care. So maybe neighbors or friends, whether they're paying them or not," said Wixson.

It’s unclear to Wixson why parents have been relying on this type of informal care, whether it’s out of necessity or by choice. The next phase of the study will use focus groups to figure that out.

"Because this data is coming from a county that has similar demographics to others, that data can be transferable and can at least inform maybe similar trends that they're seeing in their landscape," said Wixson.

Preliminary results show that employers in Emmet County want to be a part of the childcare solution but are unclear how to help.

The last day to fill outthe survey is January 31st.

Rick Brewer has been news director at WCMU since February 2024.