Utah has historically had the highest fertility rate in the country and the largest household size on average. While a vibrant and youthful population is important for the future of our economy and state, these factors also create a pressing need for accessible and quality child care in Utah. Unfortunately, accessibility, including affordability and proximity to work and home, and high-quality child care is often out of reach for many Utah families.
For this reason, Page Checketts, a master of public policy and public health student at the University of Utah, intern at Maliheh Free Clinic, and mother of nine children, has created the Utah Child Care Cooperative, or UC3.
The cooperative sprouted from a paper Checketts wrote for one of her classes. At first, Checketts and her team wanted to raise awareness about the issue but soon found out that people were aware of the issues surrounding child care in Utah – they just needed help taking steps to address them.
“This is a community issue and people are talking about it,” said Checketts. “People are looking for somebody to show them the way.”
As Checketts notes, businesses are aware of the difficulties of child care and know they play an important role in the accessibility of child care for families. The more businesses do for their employees, the more competitive they can be in attracting and retaining employees.
For that reason, UC3 will function as a resource hub, connecting business leaders with child care providers. Businesses will become members of the cooperative and UC3 will use the membership fees to cover their overhead. Any additional funds will be used to provide scholarships to child care providers looking to increase their qualifications. UC3 welcomes business to join the cooperative at any stage in the process of addressing child care issues within their workplace, whether it be exploration or implementation.
Checketts worked with leaders at Silicon Slopes during the initial formation of the cooperative and is currently running two pilot programs in 2019. The intent is that these programs will show replicable, valuable results by the end of the year and to help UC3 expand their reach even further.
“We aren’t just a business out to provide a service,” said Checketts. “We want a social movement.” For this reason, the Utah Child Care Cooperative is a true Utah Community Builder.