A story from rural Illinois neatly encapsulates the hurdles rural areas face in finding or providing reliable, qualified, affordable child care, Nat Williams 

reports

 for Illinois Farmer Today.

It's difficult for small towns to sustain a child-care center, according to Lori Longueville, director of Child Care Resources and Referrals at John A. Logan College in Carterville. The agency is one of several in the region that focus on child-care needs. "For rural areas the top challenge is to find qualified staff," she told Williams.

Low pay is a big part of the problem there; though lead day-care teachers must have certain qualifications under state law, the pay isn't often enough to justify the time and expense to obtain those qualifications, Williams reports. Those with associate degrees are generally more inclined to try for better-paying substitute teacher jobs in the public schools instead.

Ensuring the availability of rural child care is becoming more important, especially as more farmers and farming spouses seek work off the farm, Williams reports. Some rural communities are considering non-profit options.