BEATRICE, Neb - Organizations and individuals in Southeast Nebraska are learning more about issues in local childcare.

On Tuesday night, NGage, in conjunction with other area childcare organizations, held a seminar on childcare issues in Gage County and the Southeast Nebraska region, while also discussing solutions to the issues. NGage Executive Director Rachel Kreiekemeier talked about NGage’s involvement.

“We’re focusing on the communities for kids initiative and the deficit in childcare availability in Gage County,” Kreiekemeier said. “NGage, a couple of years ago, went after some funding to help improve the availability of childcare spots in Gage County and we’ve been receiving subsequent funding ever since and we’ve been tackling the deficit ever since.”

A couple of issues in childcare in the area are a lack of childcare locations and families not being able to afford childcare services. This creates issues of parents not having care for their children, often resulting in missing work or not working.

“What are their parents doing? Are they utilizing friends, grandma/grandpa, where are they seeking that care, or are they just staying home and not working because they can’t?” Kreiekemeier said. “We know there’s lots of work force shortages and issues so we want to create opportunities to get people back to work.”

The issue of childcare is not just a local issue, but a statewide one as well, says Sen. Myron Dorn. Dorn says several senators brought forth bills or ideas to help the issue in the most recent legislative session.

“As I sit here today, childcare is a very important issue in the state of Nebraska,” Dorn said. “The legislature has become very much more aware of it. Hopefully we can continue to do the things we need to do to get the funding to help some of these projects.”

Kreiekemeier says to fix issues in childcare, work within the legislature and childcare organizations is crucial.

“It’s going to have to take a collaboration and some creative partnerships to meet our need,”

Lastly, Kreiekemeier says fixing issues in childcare is crucial for the economy. As more parents and families are forced to stay home with kids, as a result of limited access to childcare, they stop spending as much money, therefore, not impacting the economy. This also limits the possibility of new businesses entering an area.

“It makes economic development hard to justify bringing in a new business, when we don’t have available childcare for these families if a new business were to come here.”