Child care needs aren’t being met in Utah

Oct 24, 2023, 9:00 PM | Updated: Oct 27, 2023, 10:45 am

Child care provider Holly Kingston teaches children at her home in West Jordan. Child care needs ar...

Child care provider Holly Kingston teaches children at her home in West Jordan on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A report released on Monday shows Utah doesn’t have enough licensed child care.

The “Mapping Care for Kids” report has statewide and county-level data. It aims to give the public and policymakers an understanding of the demand for child care in the state.

The biggest takeaway it found was that licensed child care programs can only serve about 36% of all children under six who have working parents. Every county in Utah doesn’t have enough child care infrastructure.

That’s because most families can’t afford the increasing cost of quality child care.

According to the report, an average of 17% of a family’s income is spent on child care for two children under six. It’s recommended that only 7% of income is spent on child care.

Child care providers also can’t offer quality child care for a lower rate. The industry already has low wages, few benefits, and economic insecurity.

“As a provider, I struggle to raise our rates because I care about the families I serve. I know that most providers agree. We never want to add additional burdens to anyone. However, if we want to remain open to support families, we have to,” Katie Martinez, director of Kid’s First Center in Layton, said in the report.

While licensed child care costs about the same across the state, the need varies from county to county. The counties suffering the most are in rural areas. The report found that Daggett, Piute, Rich, and Wayne counties all have no licensed child care.

Recommendations to bridge the child care gap

“Mapping Care for Kids” also provides some reasons to be hopeful. It shows that public investment and effective state implementation have led Utah’s child care system to grow by 31% since 2020.

“Because the state stepped in, I was able to give my employees a very significant raise, do significant improvements to the center, and not raise tuitions for the past two and a half years or so,” Michael Wade, Owner of First Steps in Salt Lake City, said in a press release.

However, according to a press release, child care stabilization grants were reduced by 75% as of Oct. 1, 2023. They will end completely by the spring of 2024. 

Considering these findings, the report outlines some recommendations.

The first is for Utah to commit to public investment in child care. That can include recognizing child care as early education, investing in it, not expecting too much of the business sector, and providing paid leave for families.  

The second recommendation is to help parents afford the care they want. That includes strengthening the child care assistance program, which helps middle- and low-income parents cover child care costs. It also includes expanding eligibility criteria for child care assistance. 

The third recommendation is to support the work of child care providers. That can look like continuing child care stabilization grants with state funding or bolstering wages for child care professionals. 

The bottom line is child care is an infrastructure, just like highways and housing. The report said without good enough child care infrastructure, the economy experiences labor shortages and depressed economic output.

Public investment can help Utah fulfill its child care needs.


We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


Breeze Airways airplanes. Breeze Airways announced plans Wednesday to add new service out of Ogden-...

Carter Williams, KSL.com

Breeze Airways to add new Ogden flights, restoring airport’s commercial service

Breeze Airways announced plans Wednesday to add new service out of Ogden-Hinckley Airport beginning next year.

7 hours ago

9/11 flag at salt lake 2002 opening ceremony. Winter Games...

Curt Gresseth

As SLC steps closer to hosting 2034 Winter Games, a security expert looks back at 2002

Salt Lake City steps closer to hosting its second Winter Olympics in 2034. A security expert reflects on the lessons learned from the SLC's 2002 Winter Games.

8 hours ago

Midway Ice Castles tickets on sale...

Devin Oldroyd

Tickets for Midway Ice Castles are now on sale for January opening

The weather will dictate the opening, but the Midway Ice Castles exhibit is currently scheduled to be open between Jan. 13 and Feb. 3.

10 hours ago

As ski season commences, UDOT wants to make sure those traveling to Utah's ski resorts follow the p...

Waverly Golden

Some Utah ski resorts have new parking policies, don’t get fined

As ski season commences, UDOT wants to make sure those traveling to Utah's ski resorts follow the parking policies in place.

11 hours ago

an adult and child skate together at the olympic oval built for the 2002 salt lake games...

Don Brinkerhoff

Utahns buzzing with Olympic fever over Salt Lake City Olympics bid

Salt Lake gets closer to hosting another Winter Olympics. The people who use the facilities built for the 2002 Games are excited.

11 hours ago

Deedee Corradini, the former Salt Lake City mayor, was instrumental in getting the Olympics to Utah...

Amanda Dickson

Dickson: Remembering Deedee Corradini after the Olympics news today

Former Salt Lake City Mayor Deedee Corradini was instrumental in getting the Olympics. She would be ecstatic to see them again.

15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Human hand holding a protest banner stop vaping message over a crowded street background....

Prosperous Utah Communities

Utah’s Battle to Protect Youth from Vaping Epidemic Faces New Threat as Proposed Rule Threatens Progress

Utah's strict standards of nicotine levels in vaping products are at risk, increasing health hazards associated with use. Read more about how you can advocate for a better future for Utah's youth.

Aerial photo of Bear Lake shoreline with canopies and people camped out on the beach...

Visit Bear Lake

Last-Minute Summer Vacation Planning? Check Out Bear Lake!

Bear Lake is the perfect getaway if you are last-minute summer vacation planning. Enjoy activities with your whole family at this iconic lake.

Child care needs aren’t being met in Utah