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The Importance Of Child Care Within Walking Distance

By Sarah Goodyear

In honor of International Walk to School Day, we're going to look at a post from Minnesota's Twin Cities about what you might call Wouldn't It Be Great If You Could Walk Your Kid to Preschool Day.

Streetsblog Network member Net Density makes the excellent point that for parents of preschool-age children, having child care within a quarter-mile of their homes can be the make-or-break factor in whether they choose an active commute (by foot, bike, or transit).

After some impressive number-crunching, the blog's author comes up with the conclusion that only between 13 and 16 percent of people in Minneapolis-St. Paul live within that distance of adequate child care options. Which makes for a planning challenge:

Most people don’t make housing decisions based on child care access, so depending on what you can afford, and where you want to locate, good child care access may or may not be available in your area.

So as planners and policy makers trying to leverage the multiple benefits of a non-auto commute (health, environmental, social), what role do we have in trying to improve this access? Or, in other words, how can we address this barrier and allow more people to get active? What tools can we use to do so?

Anyone out there want to step forward with some ideas? We're listening.

More from the network: Cincy Streetcar Blog has an excellent photo essay that makes a case against Issue 9, an anti-passenger rail initiative on the ballot in that city this fall. Bicycle Ambassadors demonstrates some justified pride about Philadelphia's bike commute numbers. And Portlandize takes on the question of who pays for bike infrastructure -- and auto infrastructure.

Article originally appeared on Streetsblog New York City.
Image Credit: Jeff Real, Creative Commons

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Building healthy habits, for parents and kids, start best when they start young. My kids, 4 & 7 yrs, began walking in hilly Seattle to preschool (.5 miles, 1 mile RT) when they were 3 yrs old.

We've reduced our emissions, connected with neighbors, are healthy, and help others kids on the grade school's Walking School Bus program. My 7yr old says, "I can run fast because I walk to school." I notice her endurance is greater than her friends who do not walk to school.

The 1/2 mile walk takes only 10-15 minutes and it is a great way to reduce stress too. My kids notice the beauty in the changing seasons and the quality of our time together is higher. I'd rather hold a little hand than glance in the rear view mirror any day!

PS There is no bad weather, only poor clothing choices!
We walk rain or shine, snow or sleet.

Posted by: Kirsten on 8 Oct 09

Spoken like a true Seattleite. I wish there were more like you!

Posted by: Tania on 8 Oct 09

I was lucky enough to have high quality childcare within 3 miles from birth to elementary school. There were many highly qualified in-home childcare providers in the neighborhood from birth to age 3.

It is important to provide training to those individuals are willing and able to care for children in their home. When my second child came along stayed home with my children. I was able to become a licensed provider and received wonderful training to do so. I learned a lot about caring for children, even my own. The training made me a better parent as well as a better childcare provider.

My children now attend a neighborhood school that is a walking school. I love being able to walk the kids to school every day.

Posted by: lisa on 8 Oct 09

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