A Note From Bill Jager, Vice President of Early Childhood and Policy Initiatives at Colorado Children’s Campaign December 8, 2020
This pandemic has demonstrated that the adage “everyone relies on someone who relies on child care” is more true than ever. Both our emergency response and economic recovery hinge on child care. When our essential workforce lacks access to child care, staffing shortages in health care, food service, agriculture, and emergency response are likely. But our child care providers have worked diligently to remain open, safely, throughout the pandemic so that parents can work and children can benefit from stimulating early care and learning environments.
Similarly, Colorado’s economic recovery will hinge on ensuring people can get back to work. Access to child care is a necessary work support and disruptions in care arrangements or inability to find child care disproportionately harms workforce participation among women and people of color.
Unfortunately, the higher costs of operation, the reduced revenue due to payment policies tied to child attendance, and low levels of public investment have pushed the child care industry to the brink. Many providers are struggling to keep their doors open and, sadly, many have closed their doors permanently.
Due to leadership from Governor Polis and a bipartisan group of legislators led by Reps. Kipp, Landgraf, and McCluskie and Senators Pettersen, Sonnenberg, and Priola, child care was a major focus of the special session. In the end, the legislature allocated $45 million toward two grant programs – one targeted to sustaining the capacity of the child care providers we have today and another targeted to rebuilding some of our lost licensed capacity via expansion grants. With unanimous support in the state Senate and a small handful of “no” votes in the House, it is becoming increasingly clear that policymakers are increasingly understanding just how valuable our early care and education and school-age child care providers are to both children’s healthy development and parents’ economic prosperity.
Read the bill fact sheet here and Bill Jaeger’s, our Vice President of Early Childhood and Policy Initiatives, testimony here as well as coverage of progress in support of child care that includes insights from Bill in the Colorado Sun here.