Childcare shortage in Mammoth Lakes reaches “crisis” level
There’s a bit of a joke whenever a new pregnancy is announced in Mammoth—“Congratulations! So…when are you moving?”
Childcare isn’t easy to access for parents of young children in this resort town for a myriad of reasons. Most Eastsiders are imports, and lack the family support system that one might have in their hometown. Housing costs are also astronomical—don’t expect to find a three bedroom home on the market in Mammoth for anything under half a million dollars—so there are fewer younger couples able to afford homes, and many home childcare providers are young mothers who wish to stay at home with their kids, so they end up providing for others’ children and making some extra money in the process.
“There is no affordable space available,” said Jennifer Joyce, who is closing her in-home childcare center, Jennifer Joyce Family Childcare, at the end of this school year. Joyce “aged out” of the career, as her children are now in high school and junior high, and is moving out of state where she and her family can afford to buy a home. “I have a person who I wanted to pass off my school to … and she cannot find a space,” said Joyce. “There’s nothing to rent as far as houses go, and she totally wants to do childcare.”
According to Queenie Barnard, Mammoth Site Director for Inyo Mono Advocates for Community Action (IMACA), three family childcare providers in Mammoth have closed or are closing this year. There were only 13 providers in Mono County to begin with—leaving just ten this coming year. There are also two private centers, the Mammoth Mountain-run Kids Corner and the Lutheran Preschool, both of which are currently full. “Have you considered becoming a childcare provider yourself?” Barnard inquired when The Sheet called to ask about the situation.
This doesn’t include the State-run preschools, which have the same hours as schools and take in kids from the ages of about 3-5. The Head Start preschool in Mammoth has a capacity of 22 kids, and is full. Two new preschools opened this year in Benton and Bridgeport under the Head Start umbrella, and “Benton just got full in the last two months,” said Molly DesBaillets, Executive
Director of First 5 in Mono County, “Bridgeport was full from the get go.” Those preschools care for 10 and 16 students, respectively.