A steadfast supporter of Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County (BGCWC) for more than two decades, bp Cherry Point refinery (bp) is helping to ensure quality, affordable, all-day childcare for Whatcom County families by contributing $100,000 to BGCWC’s campaign to purchase the former Kids’ World daycare sites. bp Cherry Point’s expanded investment in early childhood development comes at a critical time for childcare both locally and nationwide.
bp Cherry Point’s investment in Whatcom County children and families aligns with its corporate culture and community priorities, according to Eric Zimpfer, refinery manager. “bp aims to enhance the wellbeing of our employees, contractors and local communities. We admire the efforts of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County to improve the availability of childcare for local families, and bp is honored to support them in this truly worthwhile project,” said Zimpfer.
BGCWC stepped up in March 2020, just days before COVID-19 shut down most of our daily lives, to take over operation of Kids’ World licensed childcare, preventing the loss of 532 desperately needed daycare spots in Bellingham and Ferndale. Now, in order to secure the long-term future of these critical childcare spaces, we are pursuing ownership of the four locations.
Whatcom County already faces a significant shortfall in childcare slots. Of the 13,308 Whatcom County children who are under five years old, 8,070 (60.6%) have two full-time working parents. However, there are only 3,608 licensed childcare slots in the county.
Not only are individual families impacted, the community as a whole is as well. A series of discussions last year with local industry leaders identified lack of quality, affordable childcare as the number one economic challenge in our community. Further, the Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce partnered with the Opportunity Council in 2018 to survey Whatcom County employers on the impact of childcare barriers to their businesses. 88% of Whatcom County business owners reported childcare barriers affected their employees’ work performance whether through increased absenteeism, tardiness, resignations, or a shrinking pool of job candidates.
“Our area’s drastic shortage in licensed childcare availability adds to the challenges of local families.” says BGCWC CEO Heather Powell, “Our children’s healthy growth depends on quality care, including infancy through age five.”
With this contribution, bp Cherry Point has given a total of more than $740,000 to BGCWC in the past two decades to support our mission to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.