Demand For Daycare Outpaces Spots

5:31 PM, Apr 4, 2013   |    comments
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ARLINGTON, Va.  (WUSA0) -  The metro area is growing with young couples starting families.  But new parents can be in for a rude awakening when they discover how hard it is to find child care.  

Many child care centers have two year waiting lists, making it nearly impossible for some families to get in.  

"They're struggling.  They're scared and disappointed,"  said Lauren Smirniotopoulos, the Executive Director of the Rosslyn Children's Center  which cares for 140 children,  the maximum allowed there.   Like many quality child care centers, it's had a waiting list for years, but over the past few years, it's grown, and so has the number of calls. 

Smirniotopoulos says they get at least five calls a day from parents or soon-to-be parents, thinking they're calling in plenty of time.  

"When I tell them the wait is 18 to 24 months, it's difficult to have those conversations.   Two years sounds ridiculous," she said.

The Rosslyn Children's Center doesn't even have room for infants on the wait list unless they are siblings of children already there. 

Arlington is one of many local jurisdictions dealing with an increase of families and small children.   In D.C., 60% of the children are under the age of five.

'We had a booming population over the past ten years.  A lot of people are attracted to this region and to this city.  And that's reversing a trend that D.C. had been losing population for decades," said Urban Institute researcher Peter Tatian.  

He says governments need to at population trends 5 to 10 years down the road and respond to meet the needs. 

"If you don't have high quality schools and you don't have enough of them, then you're going to be at a disadvantage," said Tatian.

He says if families can't find quality child care and good schools, they'll move elsewhere. 

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