HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's being called a child care crisis.
A new national report says nearly half of Hawaii's youngest keiki — under the age of 6 — don't have access to quality, affordable child care.
The report, released by Child Care Aware of America, says Hawaii is short about 30,000 licensed child care slots. And of the available slots statewide, it says only about 11 percent are open to infants and toddlers.
Deborah Zysman, executive director of the Hawaii Children's Action Network, says this is troubling because early education is critical during this stage of childhood development.
She says there are not enough licensed childcare providers or programs out there to meet the demand, and that parents are often faced with long wait lists and expensive tuition.
"We have families go back to work often when a baby is just a month old and they need to figure out where that baby will be in care up until he or she starts kindergarten," said Zysman.
The report also details the financial impact child care costs can have on families.
It says single parents in Hawaii are sometimes paying 45-percent of their income for infant care, while a married couple with two kids living at the poverty line could be paying 79-percent of their income.
Zysman says the cost of infant care in Hawaii right now is about $1,300 a month.
"We'd like to see more work in the next few years to help many of our informal caregivers -- family, friends, and neighbors -- become licensed caregivers because it's a great small business to run and I think there's more help coming from the community to run those small businesses," said Zysman.