Monday, February 2, 2015

Infant Child Care Shortage Critical In Mesa County

Mesa County is experiencing a serious infant child care shortage. Several Early Childhood organizations in Mesa County are working in collaboration to answer the critical need by developing a coalition to recruit child care providers. The organizations are responding to the growing need - especially in light of a local child care provider announcing its closing in February, if a buyer is not found before then.

In Mesa County there are 184 licensed infant slots. There are approximately 2,000 babies born each year in the county. Those numbers demonstrate the huge shortage of quality child care, specifically for infants and toddlers, in the valley says Corina Otero, Early Childhood Program Specialist, Mesa County Partnership for Children and Families. Otero added that “four years ago we had 216 licensed child care providers in the community and today there are only 173”.

According to the recently released “Child Care Affordability in Colorado” released by the Colorado Children’s Campaign, approximately 61 percent of Colorado families with young children have all available adults in the workforce.  Colorado currently has approximately 5,500 licensed child care programs with a capacity to serve only 23% of the state’s 413,949 children under age 6.  The numbers are similar in Mesa County. Many licensed child care facilities are choosing to close their infant rooms and thereby reducing capacity and thus increasing the pressure to find quality care for the very young children in Mesa County.

Current Mesa County child care provider slots showing the maximum amount of capacity:
184 slots for infants ages 6 weeks to 12 months
255 slots for toddlers ages12-24 months
1577 slots for children 24 months to 5 years

A Child Care Providers Resource Fair is being offered to answer questions to encourage residents to consider offering child care. The Resource Fair will be on Feb. 25 at from 3pm to 6pm at the Mesa County Workforce Center. Various Early Childhood organizations will have information available for people to find out how to become a child care provider. Scholarship money is also being offered to help defray the costs of background checks and licensing. Each of the participating organizations will have information ranging from how to begin offering care, from licensing to education.

For more information on the Resource Fair, becoming a child care provider or to find child care call Western Colorado 211 by dialing 211.

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