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We Connect: shining a light on community childcare access

By: Kellyn Vale Last Updated: June 30, 2019

Between work, meetings, and appointments, juggling all the facets of everyday life can be a struggle for any professional, especially those with young children who require supervision. For many working parents, schedule differences, mandatory overtime, and evening or weekend work hours all present challenges when it comes to finding quality, affordable childcare. Local business We Connect is working to fix this problem, shining a light on community childcare access by forging connections between local businesses, childcare facilities, and community members.

We Connect works to help employees of their member companies with non-work-related issues, such as childcare. As the organization has grown, the need for resources outside the average 8-5 workday has become more and more apparent.

“Most of our member companies have several shifts and employ parents that have to work with what we like to call ‘non-cookie cutter’ schedules,” said Courtney Parthun, Success Coach at We Connect. “We wanted to be part of the conversation to connect the pieces in the community that can start to fill the gaps we have regarding childcare.”

“We began by surveying employees of our member companies to collect the data necessary to continue this conversation,” Parthun continued. “We found that we needed more people at the table to try to solve the childcare issue in our area and decided to step up; we’re trying to give the community a voice to make change for the better for themselves and their families.”

Conversations were also started with the YMCA regarding the highly rated childcare system they have in place.

“The YMCA is a level four Paths to Quality Childcare facility,” Parthun said. “That’s the highest ranking you can receive, and one of the only facilities with that designation in our area!”

Parthun said the goal of this project is not to create a new childcare center, but to make connections within the community that allow working parents to take advantage of the great resources that exist here, like the YMCA.

“Why reinvent the wheel with another childcare facility if we’ve got one with the highest designation right here in our own community,” Parthun said. “We just need to come together to see if adding hours for employees that work these ‘non-cookie cutter’ shifts makes sense for all parties and is sustainable.”

Starting conversations from business to business has been a major step in this process, and organizations such as the YMCA and the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership (LEAP) have played crucial roles, but Parthun wants local community members to be involved in the discussion as well. In coordination with We Connect, LEAP has issued a public survey on childcare in our area. The survey is intended to help both organizations fully understand the needs of everyone who requires services, and We Connect wants all voices to be heard.

“We want to hear from all people,” Parthun said. “We want everyone be part of a change in this community so that there is affordable, quality childcare for all, even if you work a 2nd or 3rd shift, swing shifts, are a single parent, or a two-parent household.”

To learn more about the childcare movement, visit https://whatsnewlaporte.com/2019/06/17/laporte-county-group-seeks-input-on-local-child-care-needs/. To take the survey and join the conversation, visit  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/B9XZCKR. We Connect is made possible thanks in part to support from the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte.