A Publication of WTVP

You remember that vicious circle from your early job-hunting days—the one where all the job ads said “experience required.” So how, you asked, can I find a job to get that experience if every job requires experience?

For many, that dilemma merely takes on a new face in later life. They need training to qualify for a better job. Even assuming the funding is there to support the training program and support them while they attend training, two critical hurdles remain. Across the country, experts agree that lack of transportation and lack of child care are the major reasons people don’t complete training.

And even if a person is qualified for a job, those two hurdles remain the top barriers to entering the job force.

So it is with unrestrained support that the community should embrace the coming YWCA child care facility at the new CityLink bus transfer center downtown this fall. CityLink and the YWCA are designing a model facility at the Adams and Harrison streets site. With covered bus bays and a climate-controlled waiting area, the center will provide bus riders a state-of-the-art facility.

But it’s the 6,700-square-foot daycare center that will make the complex a true source of civic pride. More than 80 children can receive quality care and development while their parents work—and contribute—at hospitals, restaurants, hotels, and businesses downtown and across the city.

How important is this step? Those who study demographics note the majority of workers will need childcare. But childcare is more than an employee concern. Access to and cost of childcare can reduce productivity and profits.

An organization with the experience and reputation of the YWCA will provide parents confidence in their child’s care. And the ability to walk or take the bus to the center after work will eliminate concerns about traffic, late charges, and similar worries.

While the childcare center will ease employee concerns, it’s the availability and combination of transportation to and from work and childcare that will mean the most.

Transportation plays a pivotal role in the road to self-sufficiency. With the timely and dedicated service provided by CityLink, that road is easier for many. And benefit from the center should extend beyond that group (more than 90 percent of welfare recipients) that doesn’t own cars. It can help the two-working-parent family that now may avoid the expense of a second car.

For employers, the new center can mean more reliable and dedicated employees and a reduced need to provide employee parking. In the future, the advantages may make it worthwhile for business support of employees who use the center and/or CityLink.

The Treasury Department notes that less than 1 percent of funding for childcare or child development comes from the private sector. Of course, not every business can afford to arrange or subsidize childcare. At this point, though, every business needs to at least be aware of the creative, collaborative thinking these two organizations are bringing to the community and support that effort in any way possible.

Imagine the possibilities. A shop with grocery items, a video store, a dry cleaner, a coin laundry, a bank branch, a medical clinic, a copy center, an Internet café, a news stand, a drop-off point for other daycare centers, employment services, a training center, a Peoria Charter Coach stop for the Midway/O’Hare bus service, people leaving their cars at home, demand forcing an expansion of operating hours…

The list is endless, as is the benefit this facility will bring to the community. IBI