Center closure impacts ongoing daycare crisis | SummitDaily.com
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Center closure impacts ongoing daycare crisis

LORY POUNDER
summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado

COPPER MOUNTAIN ” Any parent who has looked into day care in Summit County has likely struggled to find available space at an affordable cost. And the recent closure of Pumpkin Patch Day Care Center at Copper Mountain due to allegations of child abuse has just added to the crisis.

However, when nearby daycare centers received the many calls Tuesday from parents of the displaced children, they made every effort to help accommodate the need.

At Summit County Preschool, less children attend than its license allows, to keep a higher quality of care with more teachers per student. Following Pumpkin Patch’s closure, the preschool’s board voted to temporarily increase the ratio to help some of the families, said Pam Garvin, director of Summit County Preschool in Frisco.

The staff will be looking at the numbers today to figure out how many they can take, she added.

Lake Dillon Preschool and Early Learning Center was able to take eight children and had a slim number of spaces still left, depending on the age of the child.

But even with this help, a problem parents searching for alternate day care are facing is increased cost. Copper Mountain subsidized the price of day care for its employees who had children at the facility, parents said.

“When you’re asked to come up with an extra $200 a month, you’re like, ‘From where? Do I not pay for gas or electric?” said one of the parents. “I wish there were more options out there. … We’re just trying to figure it out. I’ve got to work.”

Some of the ideas being discussed by parents included possibly helping each other by swapping days or getting a group of children together and hiring a babysitter.

Copper Mountain officials could not comment Tuesday on whether they plan to open another daycare facility or if they will try to reopen the Pumpkin Patch shut down by the state Thursday.

About eight daycare centers and 30 home care centers exist in the county, said Lucinda Burns, executive director of Early Childhood Options.

“It’s a tight market,” she said. “We’ve had a few calls from families and we want to support those families as much as possible. … We just wish we had more care to offer.”

The real struggle is finding care for infants and toddlers, Burns added.

According to information by Early Childhood Options, one in 10 people working in ski industry related jobs quit because they can’t find affordable childcare. Also, one in four working in the public sector quit for the same reason.

Currently, about 3,000 children are between the ages of 0 and 5 in Summit County; 750 are in care programs and 120 are on a waiting list.

Factors such as high demand for care providers, since many families have dual working parents, and the difficulty recruiting and retaining qualified staff because of low pay contribute to the childcare crunch, Burns said.

As a county, voters approved a mill levy a couple years ago to impact childcare and local towns have been exploring ways to help.


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