Building an oasis in a childcare desert

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

A bootcamp is addressing the need for more childcare in New York

Jefferson Community College (JCC) launched the North Country Regulated Home Day Care Training Bootcamp in June 2021 to meet the demand for trained childcare workers in its community.

The first cohort of participants – 20 residents from the region – took part in early childhood development and small business workshops and received mentorship to gain the skills to open their own childcare businesses. They also received support in completing the New York State registration application and approval process, including completing all required health and safety training.

The new entrepreneurs were celebrated this month and will be enrolled in the college’s introduction to early childhood development course at no cost.

A game-changer for working families

Jefferson and Lewis Counties have been designated “childcare deserts.” Both counties secured funding to invest in JCC’s Bootcamp. JCC collaborated with the Watertown Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and Community Action Planning Council (CAPC) of Watertown to provide the elements of the program.

“We heard from community leaders that one of the most significant workforce issues is the availability of childcare. Parents cannot get back to work without care for their children,” JCC President Ty A. Stone said in a release. “The college is a leader in early childhood education, producing degree and certificate program graduates to serve our local community. It was only natural that JCC would play a role in meeting this critical need.”

The creation of new licensed and registered childcare slots in a short period of time “has been a game-changer for families returning to work,” said Cathy Brodeur, director of the Jefferson-Lewis Childcare Project at CAPC.

“The Bootcamp program has allowed us to begin rebuilding childcare capacity after years of declining options,” Brodeur said.

Only 10 home childcare businesses have opened in the last three years in Jefferson and Lewis counties. But in 2021, two new home-based childcare businesses in Lewis County and 10 in Jefferson County opened. JCC expects this number will grow as the remaining pilot program participants open their new businesses.

“Our initial investments have led to the creation of approximately 30 new childcare spots in less than six months and has sparked additional funding from our respective counties to continue to build on this momentum,” said Brittany Davis, executive director of Lewis County Economic Development.

The JCC Bootcamp program is being replicated by several other counties in New York State. The second cohort of the Childcare Bootcamp program is planned to begin March 2022, and the college is developing an online version of the program on Coursera.

How is your college helping to end childcare shortages in your community? Sound off on LinkedIn.


AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.