“A child care desert,” explains the Center for American Progress, “is any census tract with more than 50 children under age 5 that contains either no child care providers or so few options that there are more than three times as many children as licensed child care slots.”
In Nevada, an estimated 72 percent of children lived in a child care desert in 2018, according to a CAP study last December. Only Utah was was worse, at 77 percent.
Nationally, 51 percent of children are in a child care desert.
Monday, the Center updated its “Early Learning Factsheets” for all 50 states and District of Columbia. Some of the Nevada findings are very similar to the 2018 fact sheet. For instance, for two-thirds of children under age 6, “all available parents” are in the workforce.
Others findings are quite different, due to changes in CAP’s methodology. For instance, the 2018 fact sheet estimated more than 38,000 parents were making career sacrifices because of child care costs and pressures. In 2019, relying on a different data set, the number was 24,500.
But the statistic that stands out in the 2019 state fact sheet is the one that was not available in the earlier years, the percentage of children living in child care deserts.
The CAP study also estimates the cost of child care for two children at $19,100 in Nevada. Earlier studies have estimated the cost at more than $11,000 per child — a cost that, according to one of those studies, is more than the cost of college and close to the cost of rent.
State lawmakers considered some piecemeal steps on child care issues during the legislative session earlier this year, but Nevada officials have mostly left larger discussions about child care availability and affordability to federal policymakers, and failed to take any major steps.
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