The Energize Colorado Child Care Initiative provides targeted resources and customized mentorship to child care providers in Colorado.
“I had to make the decision to either pay myself, or employees, because I could not do both.”
-Child care provider via phone interview in March 2021
Colorado’s economic recovery hinges on ensuring that people can get back to work, and affordable and accessible child care is key to doing so.
Accessible and affordable child care in our state was identified as a common business concern through one of the leading groups in Energize Colorado in April of 2020. Our job is to support existing child care providers to stabilize and grow, as well as innovate. We do this by creating programs to give providers needed business acumen
Child Care Innovation Intensive
The Colorado Child Care Innovation Intensive provides a unique opportunity for you to explore, develop, and test new ideas for how to radically shift the way your childcare program operates.
Your organization will join a small group of not more than 10 providers who will come together with expert mentors, skillful facilitators, and the backing and resources of CDHS-OEC, Gary Community Investments, Mile High United Way, and more, to impact not only your program but improve the state of child care across Colorado.
Child Care Critical to Workers
Access to child care is necessary to work support and disruptions in care arrangements or the inability to find affordable child care options disproportionately harm women and people of color’s workforce participation.
- More than half of Coloradans live in a child care desert where there are more than three children for each available slot.
- 33% of CO families with infants or toddlers use Licensed care. The Colorado Licensed industry serves over 100,000 children birth-4 years old, employs more than 22,000 workers, and adds $2.25 to the state economy for every dollar of services purchased in the industry; it enables parents to participate in the state’s workforce, generating $4.4 billion in earnings annually.
- Infant or toddler center-based care costs 44% more for a year of care than a year of public college tuition.
- Child care is deemed affordable when it costs less than 7% of a family’s income. The Colorado average annual infant child care cost of $15,600 is 31% of the average income.
- Colorado is among the top ten least affordable states for childcare, yet public funding for services is lower than the national average.
- 53% of parents surveyed indicated that they had turned down a work opportunity in the last year due to a lack of affordable child care.
- As of October ‘20, 32% of employers saw employees leave the workforce, with 50% (and 75% of health care workers) citing child care challenges.
Child Care Providers in Crisis
COVID-19 slowed, but did not stop, the entrepreneurial spirit of Colorado’s child care in-home and center providers. Child care providers in Colorado face unique challenges.
- Providers are operating on razor-thin margins with 90% expressing doubt of staying operational during the pandemic without some kind of external support.
- 44% of providers report that they have parents that have not been able to pay fees during the pandemic.
- 70% of child care directors report difficulty filling positions, with an average search time of 2.5 months, and have needed to often opt to hire less qualified, but available individuals.
- 74% of Colorado licensed providers operate at a quality rating of only 1 or 2 out of 5.
- The vast majority of child care providers are women and people of color
- Early care and education professionals earn just 51% of the average salary of kindergarten teachers on average in Colorado, placing them at the poverty level for a family of four.
- Prior to COVID-19, nearly half of early care and education workers relied on public assistance (such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)) and 86% earned less than $15/hour, with only 15% receiving employer-sponsored health insurance. Compensation for this workforce has increased only 1% in the past 25 years.
- Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP)- The program assists low-income families with child care payment, but even the highest quality providers receive only 75% of market-rate and only when they are present, with the average absence rate being 10%. Not to mention CCCAP is able to serve only 1 in 8 eligible children due to funding and capacity limitations.
- Public funding is critical: Providers that do not receive federal, state, or local funding support were 1.6 times more likely to report closure due to the pandemic.
- A recent survey of child care providers found that 40% of providers worried they would need to close permanently without additional public assistance. 73% of programs indicated that they have or will engage in layoffs, furloughs, and/or pay cuts. For minority-owned businesses, the situation is worse.
- In 2018, Colorado’s licensed child care had the capacity to serve 58 percent of the young children who were likely in need of care and the number of licensed spots is declining in the state.
DID YOU KNOW?
24% of Colorado families with infants and toddlers rely on formal center-based care; 9% have a nanny; 6% use family child care homes, and the remainder have informal child care, or patch together multiple arrangements (relying on family members, informal care, and center-based care in combination). About 39% do not rely on any child care, with only parents providing care.
DID YOU KNOW?
Family Child Care Homes – provide less than 24-hour care at any time for up to 12 in the provider’s place of residence. Licensing is required and the home must meet local zoning standards and meet state family Child Care Home licensing requirements. Family child care home providers must complete a 15 hour child care pre-licensing training, as well as first aid and CPR, universal precautions, and some additional pre-service or orientation trainings, but none of this includes any business training.
DID YOU KNOW?
Child Care Centers – provide care for 15+ (up to several hundred) children who are between ages six weeks and 18 years. The center’s purpose is to provide child care. The center operates for more than one week during the year.
VOLUNTEERS ARE THE ENGINE OF ENERGIZE COLORADO
We have an active group of 100 volunteers across the State. We’re building a better, more equitable future together.
Michael Nguyen is Co-Founder and CEO at Arcana Capital Group Inc and serves as an Energize Colorado volunteer.