There is a critical shortage of child care facilities in Montgomery County for children aged 5-12, a task force commissioned by the County Council concluded this week.
The task force also said there is no central county office to furnish information to parents on day care; rather, six county agencies respond to queries. "This array of resources has not resulted in better service, but rather in service that is often confusing, conflicting, duplicative and/or inadequate," the report states.
The report is significant in that a recent study by the Greater Washington Research Center found that metropolitan Washington has the highest proportion of working women among the nation's 10 largest cities.
Using Labor Department statistics, the task force predicted that some 82,000 county children live in homes where both parents work. Recent county figures show that only 5,100 children in the county were in licensed day care centers.
Montgomery lags far behind Fairfax County in day-care services, the report noted, adding that in Fairfax, free space is provided in the county's schools for county-run day care.
Few private employers in the county involve themselves with day care, a survey of 81 local companies found. Only 15 percent provide information on day care and only one firm sponsors a day-care facility, the report stated.
The task force suggested using recently closed schools for day-care centers, as well as increasing the eligibility for subsidized child care from its current level of 80 percent of the state's median income. The increase is needed because living costs in Montgomery County are the highest in Maryland, the task force's report stated.