Frisco Town Council looks to provide more funding for child care as costs burden families
With the novel coronavirus pandemic putting more stress on local families, the Frisco Town Council is looking at ways it can provide more support for child care.
At a council work session Tuesday, Jan. 12, the group discussed options for providing funding directly to families who struggle with affording child care. The council currently provides $65,000 a year to the Summit County Preschool, which is a nonprofit and not affiliated with the county government.
While the town has a number of options for providing assistance to local families, Town Manager Nancy Kerry suggested that the council look into implementing a program that is similar to the Town of Breckenridge’s tuition assistance program.
“Child care is very expensive here, it is very expensive,” Kerry said. “Your amount that you pay can be offset by state and county programs, but it’s not going to be erased unless you’re very, very low income.”
Through that program, the Town of Breckenridge helps pay child care tuition to preschools for families who make up to 150% of the Area Median Income and whose child care cost exceeds 12% to 16% of the their gross income.
Councilwoman Jessica Burley said her own experience shows that providing child care for her family is a significant financial burden.
“(It costs) a second mortgage,” she said. “For me right now it’s the equivalent of my mortgage and I get assistance from the Town of Breckenridge.”
Burley added that the modeling after the Breckenridge program will give preschool teachers a more competitive salary.
“The Town of Breckenridge was looking at two things, I believe, when they started down this road, and that was how do we help the families, and how do we also allow those child care centers to generate the amount of revenue they need to pay for their ongoing operation and teacher retention,” she said.
Burley said she’d like for the town to look at making the $65,000 it currently provides to Summit County Preschool a part of a more strategic funding source.
“In my view, it’s helping us to retain those local families in the community,” she said. “For me, I’d like to see our $65,000 — potentially more because we know that’s not going to get us very far — start to look strategically at the overall picture, not just how do we bring that tuition down for families.”
Kerry said having more providers will mean lower costs for the families who use those facilities.
“There are not enough providers,” she said. “Having more providers, in essence supply to meet the demand, would help actually to bring down the cost.”
Most council members were in support of ongoing funding for child care from the town’s general fund, rather than in the form of an additional tax or fee that would require voter approval.
“I don’t know that we need a unique new revenue stream,” said councilman Dan Fallon. “If this is rising to this level of priority in terms of funding then I would look first to the existing budget.”
However, councilman Andy Held said he would be in support of going to the voters about a tax as the preschools would need a long-term funding source.
“I am in favor of going to the voters with an extra tax,” Held said. “We need to identify the revenue stream, we need to identify how much we’re talking about.”
The council ultimately directed town staff to conduct more surveys and collect data to inform a potential decision.
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