KNOX COUNTY, Ind. (WAWV/WTWO) – Knox County joined 6 counties with Southern Indiana Gateway, as a part of an initiative to address childcare deficits in the region.

The Knox County Economic Development and Chamber of Commerce will work with Regional Childcare Landscape to better meet the needs of working parents.

Chamber of Commerce President Jamie Neal said the initiative is very important to the county.

“We know that there’s a deficit of childcare here in counties, and we just want to do a study to go a little bit in depth,” Neal said.

Neal said the current deficit of childcare has prevented residents from returning to the workforce.

“There’s definitely a need for our force return back to work,” Neal said. “It affects our smaller businesses as well as our large manufacturers in our community.”

Knox County Economic Development Chief Executive Officer Chris Pfaff said the assessment will focus on the capacity and availability of the 20 to 25 licensed childcare providers throughout the county.

“The next couple of months we will be do the assessment and then take that data and figure out if there is a need additional capacity,” Pfaff said. “This is a tough issue that probably doesn’t come with easy solutions, but if we do not study the the problem then we are sure wont come up with a solution.”

Pfaff said its likely that many of the childcare facilities that exists will have opportunities for growth.

“You’ve got to have a certain ratio of providers to children and that can be a barrier to growing,” Pfaff said.

KCARC Life Center Director of Children Services Trenton Lee said that’s a barrier they’ve had to overcome.

“Ages 3-5 you have two adults for every 18 kids,” Lee said. “The younger you go say ages 1-3, you are look at two adults for every 8 kids.”

Lee hopes the county’s efforts will allow KCARC as well all other licensed childcare to expand their services.

“Hopefully in the coming years studies show that we can build it up a little farther and offer more services to more families,” Lee said.

The county will get results from early reports before the end of summer.