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For years, working families have struggled to find and afford quality care options that meet their needs, while providers struggle to retain and recruit early educators due to an inability to offer sufficient compensation. As an exhaustive report from the U.S. Treasury Department makes clear, there are “several market failures” that lead to a system is that is completely “unworkable.”

Using data from Child Care Aware of America on the average cost of center-based care in each state for one infant and new research from the Center for Law and Social Policy, new analysis from FFYF shows how much the average family earning 100% of state median income would save on child care costs each year under the Build Back Better Act.

Here’s how much families would save: 

Solving Colorado’s Child Care Crisis

Finding and affording quality child care and early learning options shouldn’t be the reason parents choose not to work. Yet for years, the high cost of quality care and the limited supply across the country have created insurmountable challenges for too many families. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, a staggering majority of Americans faced challenges finding quality child care options in their community and affording the care once they found it. Now, as families return to work, they are finding these child care challenges still exist and, in many cases, have only gotten worse – holding back families and Colorado’s economy. There is no question child care is an integral pillar supporting Colorado’s economic recovery and that families need a stronger system of care that works. 

Of women with at least one child under the age of six, 61% reported caretaking as the reason they experienced joblessness. 

Colorado Parents Struggle to Find and Afford Quality Child Care. In Colorado, many parents at every income level are unable to enter, return to, or remain in the workforce due to child care challenges, while others are forced to settle for unsafe, low-quality care arrangements they would never otherwise choose for their children, in order to work.

According to data from the Bipartisan Policy Center:

  • In Colorado, there are 156,030 children under the age of 5 in need of child care, yet only 249,770 child care slots
  • 38% of kids under 5 in Colorado are without the child care they need
  • Rural communities in Colorado are more underserved than urban communities
Parents in Colorado spend an average of $15,881 for center-based infant care and $10,400 for home-based infant care each year, putting quality child care options out of reach for many families.

Pandemic relief provided by Congress prevented the industry’s collapse, but didn’t address systematic shortcomings that have plagued families, child care providers, and our economy for years. The existing structure of America’s child care market is unsustainable. While most parents can’t find or afford quality child care options, child care providers can only charge what families in their area can afford, which often leads to near-poverty wages for early educators and ultimately an untenable business model overall.

According to the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment:

  • In 2019, the median wage for child care workers in Colorado was $13.79. For preschool teachers, the median wage was $15.25.
  • Colorado early educators with a bachelor’s degree are paid 26.5% less than their colleagues in the K-8 system.
  • The poverty rate for early educators in Colorado is 15.1%, much higher than for Colorado workers in general (8.6%) and nearly 6.3 times as high as for K-8 teachers (2.4%)

Current Federal and State Programs Only Serve a Fraction of Colorado Children. Existing public investments currently only serve 61,608 children out of a total population of 410,686 under the age of six, leaving families to pay high prices out of pocket or with no care options at all. New investment from Congress would allow Colorado to expand its reach to ensure that families can find and afford quality child care options that meet their needs.

  • Head Start
    • Children Enrolled: 8,226 | Income Eligible Children Served: 18.35%
  • Early Head Start
    • Children Enrolled: 1,740 | Income Eligible Children Served: 3.19%
  • Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF)
    • Children Served: 13,056 | Income Eligible Children Served: 7.2%

Voters View This as a Priority, and Polling Shows Overwhelming Bipartisan Support for Congressional Action to Address the Child Care and Early Learning Crisis:

  • 78% of Republicans, 83% of Independents, and 93% of Democrats support making child care more affordable by providing financial support to help working families pay some or all of the cost of quality care. 
  • 73% of Republicans, 84% of Independents, and 95% of Democrats support making preschool more available by providing it to all three- and four-year-olds whose parents want to send them. 
  • 79% of Republicans, 83% of Independents, and 93% of Democrats support making child care more affordable by providing all working parents, regardless of how much they pay in federal income taxes, with a tax credit to help pay for child care.

Congress Can Help Colorado Families Facing Child Care Crisis:

  • Ensure families have access to high-quality, affordable child care and early learning programs that is available when and where they need it, regardless of where they live, by investing in a mixed-delivery birth through five system
  • Build the supply by making smart investments in the physical infrastructure of child care facilities
  • Invest in the child care workforce to expand access to quality
  • Continue tax credits to support families’ inability to pay for quality care
“Without good quality early childhood teachers and programs, your economy is stuck. We almost didn’t survive; we were tear-jerkingly close. I remember breaking down in my office talking to some of my board members saying, ‘I don’t know what we’re going to do.’”
– Chrissy Simmons of Maslow Academy, Montrose

Additionally, check out a high-level overview of the various public early learning and care opportunities that exist within each state, including those made possible with federal funding. Learn why federal support and partnerships are critical, especially at a time when there are so many challenges with both supply and demand in child care and preschool.

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