Another article in our series on child care in Sleepy Eye.

Over the past several months, as city officials, child care providers, and business people have been invited to contribute to a discussion of solutions to a shortage of child care openings in Sleepy Eye, the question that lingers in the background is: “Is there a shortage of child care in Sleepy Eye?”

During the discussions, a few home-based providers have indicated the answer is no. Others indicated their child care is full. Business people have been willing to talk, but none have relayed an instance of losing or failing to hire an employee due to a lack of child care.

For this article, 19 child care providers (referred to as family or home-based care providers) with Sleepy Eye addresses, were contacted for answers to three simple questions. (All were told their names would not be used in this article.) The questions:

1. How many openings do you have?

2. How do parents find out if you have openings?

3. How many years do you think you will continue with your business?

The child care providers were contacted through phone calls, text messages, and Facebook messages. Despite repeated contacts, five providers did not answer.

Following is the information collected.

How many opening do you have?

Nine providers reported they had no openings.

Other responses:

Two preschool openings.

One school age and one part-time preschool opening.

Five openings — preschool and part-time toddler.

Two preschool openings.

Ten preschool openings (at school-year-only provider.)

How do parents find out if you have openings? Some had more than one answer.

Eight providers said “word of mouth” only.

Two said parents find them on the county list of providers and call to ask about openings.

One said both “word” and county list.

Three mentioned a Facebook group of New Ulm area providers.

Two said their own Facebook page.

One said through the list, flyers, advertising, and Facebook.

How many years do you think you will continue with your business?

One said two to three years.

Two said maybe five years.

Two said five to seven years.

One said five to 10 years.

One said eight to 10 years.

One said unknown.

One said she will consider it year to year.

Five said they have no plans to quit.

Is there a shortage of childcare in Sleepy Eye?

Here is a summary: Half the providers have no openings. One-quarter have a few, to as many as 10, openings. One-quarter did not answer the question.

Are there soon to be fewer childcare providers in Sleepy Eye? Nearly one-third indicated possibly leaving the business in about five years, plus or minus. One-quarter did not provide an answer.

On a side note — several who plan to stay in business indefinitely, mentioned caring for grandchildren.