Today, many families in Colorado consist of all available parents in the workforce. The accessibility of quality child care in communities across the state can vary widely. In San Miguel County, there is an extreme lack of early care and education options including child care and preschool. This has created a significant crisis for families, many of whom are moving out of local communities due to the lack of child care.
Bright Futures, the Early Childhood Council serving San Miguel, Delta, Montrose, and Ouray counties, identified two primary issues contributing to the child care crisis – a lack of qualified workforce and a lack of infant and toddler child care availability to accommodate current and future need.
The absence of certified early childhood teachers has hindered the addition of new child care spaces in the county. While early childhood teachers earn considerably less than workers in similar industries, personnel costs are often 85% of child care program budgets due to three main factors: mandated staff-to-child ratios, early childhood teacher educational requirements, and required multiple shifts.
Many child care providers often experience extreme turnover and burnout due to low pay and high stress, which is associated with working long shifts. While San Miguel County is the 3rd fastest growing county in child population there is a 45% shortage of child care spaces – a number that continues to grow annually. In the town of Telluride, there are no infant and toddler child care options.
Bright Futures sought to change child care in San Miguel County by building a coalition of partners to advocate for a ballot initiative to raise funds for the local early childhood system. In November 2017, the ballot measure passed by 63% and will raise nearly $600,000 annually to support local young children and their families.
Bright Futures will work with local partners to convene an Early Childhood Advisory Panel ensuring the new funds work towards building and sustaining a strong early childhood workforce and ultimately increasing the availability of quality child care for local families.
Learn more about the Bright Futures’ work to support young children and their families.