County 23rd in child care slots |

County 23rd in child care slots

The cost of child care for one infant in Nevada County costs an average $6,453 a year – almost as much as renting a two-bedroom apartment, according to a statewide survey released Wednesday.

Families earning the county’s median income – $43,279 – spend as much as 26 percent of the household’s budget on child care for two children in a county where about 300 low-income families are waiting for child care subsidies, the survey found.

The county ranks 23rd among the 58 counties in its supply of licensed child-care slots, the data showed.

These are some of the conclusions in the survey sponsored by the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network, a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization that studies child-care issues. The survey used 2000 figures.

“It’s still difficult to find good child care, even for the parents who pay on their own,” said Bonnie Taylor, deputy director for Sierra Nevada Children’s Services, a Grass Valley-based nonprofit organization that helps parents obtain access to child care.

“It’s difficult for everybody,” Taylor said.

Quality care is expensive to provide, Elizabeth MacKenzie, administrator for Little Friends Nursery, said Wednesday.

It is very labor intensive, she said, adding that her facility employs 16 full-time and part-time employees. The facility cares for children aged 6 weeks to 10 years for 11 hours a day, five days a week.

Kathleen Reiswig, who co-owns Monalee’s Pre-School on Ridge Road near Nevada City, and MacKenzie blame the high cost of child care in part on the ever-increasing liability and worker’s compensation insurance rates.

“It’s out of sight,” MacKenzie said, referring to worker’s compensation. “We suffer all the ills of small businesses and then some.”

Statewide, the average wage of a child-care provider is far less than the pay of a kindergarten teacher, the survey found.

Both MacKenzie and Reiswig, who wish child-care workers were paid more, said they keep employees in part by providing flexible work schedules.

Sierra Nevada Children’s Services is associated with the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network and provided data for the survey.

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