‘Triage childcare’ situation in Dubois prompts draft legislation that would reduce restrictions for nannies

    A legislative committee is drafting a bill to reduce restrictions for nannies in Wyoming after hearing testimony from a Fremont County resident about the “triage childcare” situation her community is currently facing.

    The only daycare for children ages 0-5 in the Dubois area recently closed, Crowheart resident Casey Sedlack told the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Labor, Health and Social Services Committee this week, leaving a “significant portion of our parent population in jeopardy when it comes to child care.”

    The closure “left a significant hole in the dynamic of our community” and created a “crisis” for the local school district, Sedlack said, explaining that “many of those parents with children in the daycare are also educators or work in the Dubois school.”


    “It very, very rapidly, like almost overnight, turned into a triage situation,” Sedlack said. “We’ve explored many, many options for basically providing triage childcare to the people who are most significantly affected by this closure – namely our educators and people who make the school run in Dubois.”

    One of the options the local “childcare coalition” explored was a “nanny share” program that would let multiple families pool their money to hire one childcare provider for their children, but Sedlack said Wyoming law currently prohibits nannies from serving more than two families at a time.

    “That immediately wipes out your options for having quick access to childcare, because it becomes illegal very, very quickly,” Sedlack said, encouraging the lawmakers to “explore whether those statutes still hold in today’s economy, in today’s situation, in today’s need of parents.”

    “(Let’s) figure out how we can support emergency childcare options – and of course long-term, sustainable options – but to help us access childcare when we need it most … particularly when it comes to triage situations like I’m speaking on today,” she said. “How do we take care of those interim periods between a time where one daycare closes and another daycare opens for the people who need it the most?”


    Later in the meeting, the committee voted to draft a bill that would allow nannies to serve up to five families at a time.

    The committee will consider the bill draft at its next meeting, which is scheduled to take place June 20-21 in Pinedale.

    Statewide statistics

    More than one-third of Wyoming is considered a “childcare desert,” legislative staffers told the committee this week, and there is a 28 percent “gap” in childcare availability statewide that leaves about 5,395 children in need of childcare, according to the Wyoming Department of Family Services.


    DFS Senior Administrator Roxanne O’Connor noted that Wyoming’s childcare gap has fallen about 8 percent since 2020 and is lower than the national average, but regardless, “there are still communities that struggle to have access to childcare.”

    The situation creates an “economic issue,” she said, as it “impairs families’ ability to work, and then we have other supports that need to come into play.”

    Childcare providers say it’s a “workforce issue,” O’Connor added, so DFS is implementing several “initiatives” that could help address that portion of the problem.


    DFS is also working with the Wyoming Business Council on the issue, she said, since “it’s recognized that childcare is a cornerstone to economic development and growth.”

    Some lawmakers suggested forming a task force to study the childcare issue, but Wyoming Rep. Sarah Penn, R-Lander, spoke against that idea, citing testimony that indicated “business can solve this problem and have a private solution.”

    “We still need more input to make some decisions,” Penn said. “I think it would be hasty to move a lot quicker without really knowing the issue, especially if this is not something government should be getting our hands into at this time.”


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