Marshall County parents face child care desert | News

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iKids Childhood Enrichment Center is in Benton, Kentucky. 

MARSHALL COUNTY, KY — A local child care provider said affordable and accessible child care has been a problem in Kentucky for years. Marshall County, for example, is considered a category 2 child care desert. There are at least three to six children waiting for openings at every facility there, according to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Since COVID-19, Kentucky has seen a significant decrease in availability, because restrictions have forced many businesses to close.


Mariah Wilson is a teacher and a mother who said finding child care in the area was a struggle. “We quickly realized that child care is something that is an issue in our county and, I think, surrounding counties as well,” she says.


Marshall County mother Mariah Wilson shared how finding child care has been a struggle. 

She says it took almost a year to secure day care for her first child. She started the process as soon as she got pregnant, so she would be ready when that time came. “I just remember thinking, man, this maternity leave is supposed to be somewhat of a restful experience with my baby, and all I could think about was who’s going to take care of him,” she says.


Jennifer Washburn is the executive director of iKids in Benton, Kentucky. 

Jennifer Washburn, executive director of iKids in Benton, says it’s hard for families to secure a spot. Her organization has a waiting list of up to three years. “It’s really people working hard to make it work so that they can work and doing their best to find the best solution for their family,” she says.


Washburn says a temporary answer to this problem might require more people opening up their homes. “A family child care home is when a person decides to open up a small center within their home for a limited number of children that they care for. By becoming a certified home, they can receive assistance,” Washburn says.


This photo shows Mariah Wilson’s children, Emmet and Callan, playing in their front yard. 

And if that’s not an option, parents have a tough decision to make. “Do you take off and have a financial strain on your family? Or do you just hope and pray that you find people willing to kind of drop everything to take care of your baby?” says Wilson.

For more information on child care assistance click here

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