Ocotillo Early Learning Center

Norma Flores, director of the Ocotillo Early Learning Center, practices the alphabet with Neza Medina, 4, in a preschool class. The learning center offers infant care, preschool, kindergarten and first grade.

In late spring, the Arizona Daily StarLa Estrella de Tucsón and #ThisIsTucson began exploring the issue that many local families face in trying to find affordable child care.

The numbers are staggering:

Child care is deemed affordable if it costs no more than 7% of a family's income, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That means, according to financial experts, only 8.7% of Arizona families can afford infant care.

The average annual cost of infant care in Arizona is $10,948, which is 3.7% more annually than in-state tuition at the University of Arizona, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

On the flip side, the EPI says families of child care workers nationwide are more than twice as likely to live in poverty compared to other families. And there's also a shortage of preschool educators in Tucson.

Thanks to a grant awarded to La Estrella by Solutions Journalism Network, we were able to write and report four stories about the status of child care in the Tucson area and how local officials and organizations are trying to be part of the solution.

Solutions Journalism Network is an organization dedicated to promoting journalism that analyzes community responses to specific problems.

You can read the four stories, which are also available to read in Spanish, linked below.

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