Kirra Kusy, right, and Finn Dresen enjoy snack time Tuesday afternoon at the Laurel Street School and Family Center in Steamboat Springs.

Photo by Brian Ray

Kirra Kusy, right, and Finn Dresen enjoy snack time Tuesday afternoon at the Laurel Street School and Family Center in Steamboat Springs.

County Commissioners discuss raising child care assistance

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— Stephanie Howle, director of First Impressions of Routt County, said Tuesday that the biggest problem for local families seeking early childhood education is not long waiting lists at overcrowded preschools - the biggest problem is cost.

Howle visited with the Routt County Board of Commissioners to present a market survey about the county's child care providers. She said early learning centers are struggling to keep preschool affordable for working families, while still providing quality care.

"The catch-22 is that we want families to be able to afford quality child care, because with the population of Steamboat being working poor : they have to work more to be home with (their) child," Howle said. "But at the same time, we want child care centers to provide a quality environment and pay teachers well by charging the true cost of care. How are families going to afford that cost? So we are looking at finding ways to find a dedicated public funding source."

The market survey shows the average prices for child care at licensed centers and homes in Routt County. Based on those averages, Routt County Commissioners will determine how much money the county can allocate to centers and homes, as reimbursements to help fund child care for families eligible for the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program, or CCAP. The program helps families earning 52 percent or less of Colorado's median income.

Earlier this year, County Commissioners moved to a tiered reimbursement model for child care providers.

"In the past, we provided everybody with the same rate," Commissioner Doug Monger said. "With the tiered rate, we gave them an incentive to improve the quality of their program."

Center-based child care providers rated as "licensed plus" are currently reimbursed $58 per day for a child younger than two-and-a-half years old. Home-based "licensed plus" providers are reimbursed $53 per day.

If a center or home has a lower licensing rate, the county's reimbursement is less.

Center-based child care providers in a lower licensing tier are reimbursed $44 per day for a child younger than two-and-a-half years old. Home-based providers in a lower tier are reimbursed $53 per day.

Howle asked County Commissioners to raise each reimbursement $2, effective from Jan. 1, 2008, to Dec. 31, 2008. No vote was taken Tuesday, but commissioners indicated support for raising reimbursement rates.

Howle said financial assistance also is available to families who earn 53 to 85 percent of the Colorado median income for child care through the United Way/Human Resource Coalition Scholarship Program.

"All families receiving child care tuition assistance are paying a small portion of their child care tuition bill," she said. "It's to ensure that families who are under that 53 percent threshold don't forgo a raise because they no longer will receive reimbursements from the county."

According to a Yampa Valley Community Indicators survey conducted in 2005, 25 to 35 percent of Routt County families are considered "working poor," which is defined as families that work, yet struggle economically to meet basic needs.

The survey also indicated that a single parent with a young child in Routt County needs to work one full-time job, plus another half-time job, to support his or her family.

"This work load makes quality child care a high priority," Howle said.

- To reach Mike McCollum, call 871-4208

or e-mail mmccollum@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

housepoor 7 years, 1 month ago

So does the daycare get $58 a child in addition to the fee they charge the parent?

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Rachael 7 years, 1 month ago

The child care situation in this community is an absolute joke. The lack of child care providers makes it so parents don't have a choice as to where they send their kids for care. You take what ever you are lucky enough to get. Then if you are fortunate enough to receive daycare assistance from the State, it is likely that your daycare provider won't accept it, and you can't get into the providers that do, because of the waiting lists. The daycare issue is an absolute crisis for this community. In other Resort Towns employers actually offer daycare facilities for their employees at a discounted rate, open seven days a week. Gee wouldn't the employers have more of a labor pool to choose from and happier employees if they went in together and built a daycare for their employees use? Wouldn't this make scheduling easier? I bet this would increase the quality of the labor pool that they could pull from vs. what they have now.

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dimwitiguess 7 years, 1 month ago

Two cute white kids pictured? No children of diversity shown? I guess this is a community that might care more if the kids shown are white?

Why don't we put a thermometer on the courthouse lawn that shows money raised to help support childcare and another thermometer of housing support? I guess it would be embarrassing to see the red line glued to the bottom permanently, huh?

Dumb idea I'm sure but that's a point of view of a dimwitiguess.

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agentofchange 7 years, 1 month ago

OK, here it is... Zero Population, Population Zero...

Zero population growth occurs when there is neither a net growth nor a net decline in population, but rather a steady state in which the numbers added by annual births and immigration exactly balance the numbers who die and emigrate each year. This is why we think the Census people can't get it right. Steamboat is ahead of the curve. We have already reached ZPG! Zero population growth is the ideal to which Steamboat (and the world as a whole) should aspire in the interests of achieving long-term environmental sustainability. Otherwise, "we will be lost". There ought to be a law, for gosh sakes, and City planning needs to get on this right away. Towny probably could head it up.

Don't you get it? Why is this not part of the Steamboat comprehensive plan. 2030 are you listening?

Why do we have to pay for other peoples Kids?

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