First Findings Released from Survey of Childcare Needs in Effingham County


Published on September 20 2021 3:20 pm
Last Updated on September 23 2021 10:48 am
Written by Greg Sapp

daycare shortage

Results are being made available of a survey of child care needs in Effingham County.

Through the 15-question survey, it was learned that almost half of respondents had struggled to find childcare, but now had it. More than 40% of respondents shared that the search for childcare could be described as "stressful, hard, impossible, overwhelming." One respondent shared that she had called "38 people or centers before finding a place for her newborn."

254 surveys were completed, with 206 from households that had children birth to five years old. 

The survey showed that the need for childcare for infants and toddlers is particularly challenging. 

Courtney Hatcher is Provider Recruitment and Quality Specialist for Project Child of Mt. Vernon, a child care resource and referral agency. Hatcher said, "A licensed childcare center is allowed a ratio of one childcare staff to four infants age six weeks to 14 months, and one childcare staff person is allowed five toddlers' ages 15 to 23 months. Licensed family childcare providers are allowed no more than five children under the age of five, which greatly limits the capacity for this young age group even further."

Many families have children in both of these age groups, and that limits the number of families that can be served in each program. Having multiple children close in age is one reason why 33.5% of respondents shared that they would prefer a childcare center for their family, since they could be served in one location.

Early analysis of surveys found that 85% of respondents were married with both partners working 30 or more hours a week, and 72% of respondents had an average household income of $60,000 or more a year.

Samantha Weidner, Early Childhood Development Director with the Effingham County Health Department's Effingham County Connections Program, said, "Overall, the survey data confirmed what the Community Based Planning Group has heard anecdotally in our community; finding the best childcare option for a family is very difficult."

15% of those surveyed shared their frustration at the lack of options for parents. 

"Quality childcare that is both affordable and flexible is nearly impossible to find", a respondent explained, while another shared, "This process is difficult. There is a shortage of childcare providers, centers where children can go, before and after school care, and the pre-k programs are either low-income or the private pay can become costly."


Some caregivers face even more challenges as Kevin Bushur, Chief Executive Office of CEFS Economic Corporation explains: “As a foster family for the past 13 years, we’ve been in the unique position to see the increasing lack of childcare. Foster care families literally just receive a phone call asking if they can take a child – and of course, we all want to say yes – but the reality for two working parents is that you have to consider where you’ll find care for the child. So the reality is that our community’s lack of childcare is failing our most vulnerable children too.”

Kellie Niemerg, Director Effingham Education Center at the Lake Land College Kluthe Center, shared: “Ultimately, this all goes back to workforce. It’s imperative that our community look hard at ways it can create and sustain a diverse childcare provider network to meet the needs of our changing community.”

Data from this initial survey will be used to help inform Illinois Action for Children and the Community Based Planning – Effingham County group as it determines how to best collaborate to provide more childcare options for families.
Effingham Public Library Assistant Director Johnna Schultz said, "those involved in developing the survey realize that it did not reach portions of the County's population. As a result, the survey has remained open, and families can still respond. The English version remains open at this link: while the Spanish version is here: