Summit County leaders point to $30 million in child care funding in state’s proposed 2022-23 budget as making one of the biggest impacts in local economy
Budget also allocates $51 million to help businesses find workers, help workers find good-paying jobs through apprenticeships and more
When Gov. Jared Polis released the state’s proposed budget for 2022 to 2023, the Colorado Chamber of Commerce pinpointed some of the items that could make the biggest impact in the state’s economy.
According to a news release from the chamber, some of those items included:
- $600 million for relief from pandemic-related unemployment insurance charges to save employers money and protect worker wages
- $104 million in fee relief for individuals and businesses, including making it free to start a business, paid family and medical leave premium relief and more
- $5 million to help workers find in-demand opportunities
- $51 million to help businesses find workers and helping workers find good-paying jobs through short-term credentials and apprenticeships
- $30 million to create more child care facilities
- $200 million in investments from the Economic Recovery and Relief Cash Fund to be used to leverage local and other funding to reduce homelessness
The proposal was released on Nov. 1 and is for the state’s next fiscal cycle, which takes effect July 1. The budget usually isn’t approved until the spring.
While items like allocating funds for training the workforce are no-brainers, Corry Mihm, project manager for the Summit Prosperity Initiative, said that there was one budget item that could prove to have one of the biggest impact on Summit County’s local economy.
“Of those, the ones will help (are) obviously helping support the child care facilities,” Mihm said. “… That’s really important.”
Summit County’s lack of child care has always been an issue, but the pandemic brought to light just how intertwined the local business community and child care facilities truly are. When children couldn’t attend school in person, it meant they were learning or needed care at home. Families that didn’t have extra help were then forced between taking care of their child and going to work.
Local businesses have struggled to staff up in the months following the worst of the pandemic. While this phenomenon largely has to do with housing, Early Childhood Options Executive Director Lucinda Burns noted that child care is just as important to examine.
“When people get to their 30s or so they start to think about having children and buying a home, and if it becomes too difficult then, very often, they move out,” Burns said “So there is very often what we would call the ‘30s flight’ where people in their 30s flee Summit County.”
According to the Colorado Chamber of Commerce’s news release, the state’s budget proposes $30 million to create more child care facilities. “Colorado can create more child care options for hard-working Coloradans by renovating existing state buildings, including higher education institutions, so that these facilities can be used as child care centers for the public, state employees and students,” said the release.
Burns said the county has such a high level of need that it would put this money to good use if it were to receive a sliver of the funding.
“In terms of money to build new facilities or to expand capacity, the main thing is that I think we know we have a need in Silverthorne on the north end of the county for sure but, really, we have needs all over the county,” she said. “So the main thing to do is to look at a combination of service delivery options: new child care facilities, new family child care homes and to consider whether there’s any opportunity to expand in the Summit School District.”
While there’s many projects in the works to strengthen the local child care community — such as increasing wages for child care teachers, providing child care tuition assistance, and opening more facilities — Burns said in the future, she’d like to work with larger employers to collaborate and fill some of the community’s needs.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for us to work more closely with our employers, particularly our largest employers, around how they can play an important role in solving this issue so that we can ensure that their employees can go to work and know that their children are safe and well cared for,” Burns said.
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