Breckenridge Ski Resort to offer year-round child care to employees

A ski instructor at Breckenridge Ski Resort works with students. Leaders at the resort are in the process of hiring child care staff in order to provide day care services to employees year-round.
Andrew Maguire/Breckenridge Ski Resort

In a time where finding child care has become difficult for parents in communities across the state, Breckenridge Ski Resort is planning to bring in more than a dozen year-round spots for its employees.

Jody Churich, vice president and chief operating officer at the resort, said that she went on a listening tour shortly after starting in her role about a year ago, where she spoke with employees and local leaders to learn about critical needs. One of those critical needs was child care, and Churich said that it soon became a priority. 

“It took quite a bit of time to put all the pieces together and last year was a challenging year, just from a staffing perspective,” she said. “So we tackled (offering child care) when we knew we could actually start to really put the plan in place.”

The plan is to have about 20 spots for children who need day care. Currently, Churich said that there is not an estimate as to how many of the resort’s employees have children. In the past, Breckenridge Ski Resort has offered child care, but it was not year-round, and Churich said that it had been discontinued because of the pandemic.  

The resort has already posted job openings for the future care center, as well. For the director position, the budgeted salary range starts at $70,000 to $75,000, and the assistant director is budgeted for $60,000 to $65,000. According to the postings, actual pay will be adjusted based on experience. For child care attendants, wages start at $20 per hour, and the resort is offering full-time and part-time shifts. 

According to a recent study from the Department of the Treasury, multiple factors influence whether or not a working parent finds child care. This could include the availability of options nearby, the price of those options and how the options fit the parent’s scheduling and other needs. The study also found that access to high-quality care can be an important determinant of whether mothers remain in the labor force.

“Temporary child care crises can have long-lasting impacts for parents, as their decisions about whether to remain in the labor force, reduce hours or set sights on a promotion when their children are young can have long-run effects on their career paths and earnings trajectories,” the study reads.

Currently in Summit County, several hundred students are on a waitlist for child care, ranging from children not yet born through 28 months. In recent weeks, various local governments have made strides in trying to expand access to care. In Silverthorne, ground has been broken on an early child care facility, which will add 65 to 70 child care spots for children across the county. Breckenridge’s child care assistance program expanded access to families that make up to 180% of the area median income, and the centers that coordinate with the town on assistance are looking to raise the starting salaries for full-time teachers to $50,000

“We have to think about all levels of our employee base,” Churich said. “We have people in all types of different roles here that are growing their families. I think (the COVID-19 pandemic) was a time where we saw just an incredible boom, as well. I think it’s the perfect opportunity for us to step up and put our employees first.”

On Aug. 10, new laws passed by the Colorado Legislature that aim to cut taxes for child care centers and educators went into effect. One bill — HB22-1006 — will expand the existing property tax exemption for nonprofit child care centers, allowing these exemptions to include properties that are leased by a child care center. This will provide savings for centers starting in early 2024. The other is HB22-1010, a tax credit for people who work as an early childhood professional for at least six months of the taxable year. 

“Child care in Colorado has become increasingly expensive and scarce — particularly in our rural and mountain communities — and that is why this was my first bill of the year: to provide significant tax relief to child care centers that will allow them to hire more employees, open new child care spots and save families money,” Rep. Dylan Roberts said in a statement. “The lack of affordable child care hurts working families and this new bipartisan tax reduction law will help to increase the number of available spaces for child care facilities, driving down the cost of child care for both providers and families.”

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