Our view: Aiding home-based child care makes sense
Keeping Steamboat livable for young families.
Efforts by local governments to stimulate new home child care businesses are right on target.
Suzanne Schlicht, publisher and COO
Lisa Schlichtman, editor
Jim Patterson, assistant editor
Tom Ross, reporter
Dennis Fisher, community representative
Ed MacArthur, community representative
Enimie Reumaux, community representative
Steamboat Springs — The news this week that local governments have partnered with two leading agencies in the field of child care and development to offer financial incentives and training to start-up, home-based child care facilities strikes us as one of the most constructive efforts we’ve seen to address the shortage of child care in the Yampa Valley.
The child care gap, combined with the scarcity of attainable housing for working families, represents one of the greatest inhibitors to attracting new businesses and well-educated workers to the community. The high cost of local child care is most stressful on people working for modest wages in essential service industry jobs.
We think identifying creative solutions to those two shortages is one of the best ways to ensure Steamboat Springs and Routt County remain vigorous communities that nurture healthy families. We also think it’s significant that local government is showing a willingness to act. After all, the city and county share the same challenges the private sector does in terms of recruitment and retention.
The new effort — undertaken by the city of Steamboat Springs and Routt County, in cooperation with the Family Development Center’s Child Care Network and First Impressions of Routt County Family Child Care Home Capacity Building Project — is focused on increasing the accessibility and quality of child care by offering grants of as much as $5,000 to people interested in starting a new home-based child care facility.
And there is particular emphasis placed on serving children younger than 3, an age group for which the shortage of care is most acute.
The city announced in October it would commit $20,000 to the project, and the county has offered $500 to each new child care provider to help obtain state licensing. People who qualify will also be offered training by the Child Care Network through the licensing process.
Interim City Manager Gary Suiter pointed out that, in addition to providing new child care options for parents who want, and need, to work outside the home, fostering new home child care facilities could lead to the creation of five new businesses in the community.
It’s well known that, for some parents, perhaps with two children of their own, the cost of child care, when compared to available wages, strongly suggests they stay home to care for their own children. Another way to say the same thing is that the high cost of child care here, among the highest in the state, is a disincentive for parents to fill jobs vital to the local economy.
By making it feasible for some of those parents to earn income by caring for the children of other families, other parents can remain in the workforce.
We’re realists and recognize that some in-home child care workers will drop out of the business when their own children reach a certain age, but that shouldn’t deter us from continuing to foster start-up child care businesses.
To take advantage of city funds, the provider must offer care Monday through Friday or five full days per week, offer care from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. or for a full 10 hours, care for some children younger than 3 and care for at least two children younger than 2.
The first of two available information sessions was held Friday. The second will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday. Meet at the coffee shop in the Bud Werner Memorial Library, or call Sharon Butler at 970 879-7330.
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