A tennis shoe comes dropping down from kids playing on equipment in the outdoor Kinderskog program in Petersburg. (Photo by Katie Holmlund)

Non-profits in Petersburg are looking for ways to address Petersburg’s childcare needs. The group is hosting a community round table discussion this weekend to come up with possible solutions. KFSK’s Angela Denning reports:

Childcare is a challenge in many communities in America and Petersburg is no different. When it’s not available, parents must stay home from work. And that has a trickle down affect throughout the town.

But Petersburg is looking into solving some of the issues.

“One is staff turnover, hours of operation,” said Becky Turland, Community Wellness Specialist with the Petersburg Medical Center, which is a partner in the SHARE Coalition, the organization leading the effort.

Turland says Petersburg’s childcare problems really came to light during the pandemic.

During COVID, with the daycares shutting down–some of them shutting down–it really affected multiple agencies in our community,” Turland said. “Multiple big agencies such as the school itself with all the school employees that have children, the borough, and of course, the hospital.”

PMC’s CEO, Phil Hofstetter says childcare is an issue that affects hospitals all over the country.

“Even before COVID, this has been an enormous challenge within many, many healthcare systems,” he said.

Over the past year, the SHARE coalition sent out surveys to community members and local childcare providers. They’ll be revealing the results at a community café this Saturday from 3 to 5 p.m. inside the high school library. Turland says they plan to talk about what the issues are and then bring some solutions to the borough assembly.

“We have a nice presentation together,” Turland said. “Hoping that everybody can join in that has any sort of interest in childcare. If you have children that go to childcare, you work in the industry, you own an industry or run an industry, having them there will be very important for this meeting.”

Turland didn’t want to reveal the survey results before the community café but she says the coalition asked childcare providers and families to explain their experiences and challenges.

“We did ask financial questions like are you able to meet your bills? Are you able to pay your staff? What kind of benefits are you able to give them?” said Turland. “Just to try to see what our community is able to offer and hopefully we can get some solutions to make it better and keep it running.”

There will be free childcare for parents and guardians participating in the community café. It will be provided in the community gym for those who need it.