Child care easier to get in Summit County
SUMMIT COUNTY – Shorter or no waiting lists, special offers for parents, families with young children leaving town: This is what child care facilities in Summit County are seeing as effects of a down economy.”I think it’s a general response to the economy,” said Elizabeth Lowe, the child care resource and referral manager for Early Childhood Options. “Parents are juggling schedules more. Child care is expensive, and with the economy people are cutting back wherever they can. … For a lot of young families, child care is one of biggest expenses next to a mortgage. With a couple kids, it’s No. 1.”And with layoffs and hours cuts, parents are trying to stay home instead of shell out for child care, Lowe added.”It was a rough summer – April, May and June,” said Cheri Johnson, the director of Lake Dillon Preschool. “Several families left the county because of the economy. They couldn’t afford to live in Summit County.”Director Pam Garvin from Summit County Preschool agrees: “We aren’t full. Certainly there are openings. The biggest impact has been on the waiting list. People have moved away because they can’t afford to live here, or their (phone) numbers are disconnected. …That’s what we’ve found with the waiting list.”Johnson said they had to cut back employee hours this summer, and she didn’t replace a few employees who left the county, but things are picking up. She said she recently hired two new staff members, and she’s looking for another.”We are back on the mend, things are picking up,” she said. “There’s a long wait list for the baby room – we can’t take any babies until after March. We’re hopeful that things are coming around.”There is still a demand for infant and toddler slots for Summit County child care, but there are plenty of preschool openings throughout the county. “Cost is still the primary barrier for families,” Lowe said. “The price tag for quality care is expensive.”According to Garvin, prices for early child care varies, but it’s expensive regardless. Two-plus kids can be really expensive, she said – it can be as high as $1,082 for an infant. As a child gets older, it’s less pricey.
To help Summit County parents take a break, do errands and get some “me” time, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Breckenridge will offer a new day care service to parents starting Thursday.”We’re doing this as a ministry to our community knowing that there’s a lot of families that can’t really afford child care,” said Kristen Simpson, the director of family ministries at St. John’s Episcopal Church. “We’re targeting stay-at-home moms who cannot afford childcare, to help them get something done and to relax.”Called “Parents Day Out,” this day care service will be available on Thursdays from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. every Thursday indefinitely. It’s open to children ages six months to 12 years old.The program doesn’t have a set daily fee, but parents are asked to donate $15 per child. People who can’t afford to pay the fee can receive the service through a scholarship program. For more information, e-mail email@example.com.Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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