Desperate for teachers and staff, some rural Colorado schools are offering their workers child care
KREMMLING — Becca Pearson thought it would be impossible to find child care for her 1-year-old daughter in her rural community of 2,000. Instead, the speech pathologist found a provider that fits with her work schedule — where she gets a discount and could breastfeed her daughter during the day.
She’s among a handful of teachers and staff at West Grand School District in Kremmling who receive not just a paycheck from the district — but child care. It’s a benefit some rural school districts have started to offer in an effort to hire and retain more teachers amid soaring housing costs and a lack of local day cares.
“We’ve talked about housing and child care almost every year that I’ve been here,” said Elizabeth Bauer, West Grand’s interim superintendent and a Kremmling resident since 2011. “It’s an issue — and it has been exacerbated more and more lately,” hampering the district’s ability to attract prospective teachers.
Bauer knows of one licensed child care provider in town with spots for 10 kids — four of which are occupied by her own four sons.
Concerns about lack of child care have intensified across the state as some districts are squeezed by a rash of educators leaving their jobs after a stressful year-and-a-half of pandemic teaching. That has intersected with a long-term shortage of teachers and an influx of wealthy second-home buyers who flocked to resort towns during the pandemic, driving up prices and making it nearly impossible, in the worst cases, for schools to fill new positions.
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