In general, research has shown that rural communities face serious shortages in health care workforce. This is especially concerning, as rural areas are aging at a faster rate than the rest of the country, and therefore have particular needs for a robust long-term care workforce. Women make up the vast majority of the health care workforce, including more than 90 percent of all nurses and health care paraprofessionals, such as home health care aides — which make up the backbone of the long-term care workforce. Efforts to recruit and retain health care workforce in rural areas tend to focus on individual-level initiatives, such as loan forgiveness and provider training, rather than on broader family and community issues like access to child care.
In a new study in the Journal of Community Health, researchers in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota found fewer than one-third of all children under the age of five living in rural Wisconsin counties had access to an available slot in a licensed child care facility (either center or family-based), compared to nearly half of children under the age of five living in urban and suburban Wisconsin counties.