Early care and education is a highly regulated industry with a mission to provide quality care and education to children enabling parents to work. Yet, according to the Center for American Progress, 51% of people in Colorado live in a child care desert. A child care desert is any census tract with more than 50 children under age 5 that contains either no child care providers or so few options that there are more than three times as many children as licensed child care slots.
The early care and education business model consistently functions with a significant revenue gap, the cost of providing child care as compared to its revenue. For years these small businesses fund this gap by paying very low wages to its workers.
As a result of the persistent low wages and significant regulation, the number of small child care center and home-based providers is diminishing. With the customarily low wage comes high staff turnover rates ranging from 15 - 30% annually. Without sufficient staff and the regulated teacher to student ratio, a child care program cannot serve the number of children for which is it authorized.
Despite the child care provider's role as an essential service for businesses and working families, it struggles to be financially viable and families are challenged to find care.
Employees and employers need increased access to affordable, quality child care.
The pathway is clear, but "takes a village" to reach the goals.
Updating the early care and education business model with financial best practices will lead to financial viability and improve access for Colorado working families
- Managing the child care slots to full capacity - developing the optimum full and part-time mix
- Maximizing access and affordability through longterm contracts with businesses for employee child care slots
- Developing economies of scale through a shared services model to manage operating costs
- Creating an attractive career path for the profession with higher wages and benefits to reduce worker turnover
Creating business sector awareness to support affordable child care
- Establishing a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) for employees as authorized by the Internal Revenue Service
- Contributing to the Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) when an employee uses it to pay the cost of child care
- Contracting for monthly child care slots with child care programs to guarantee available child care slots for employees
- Joining a child care consortium/cooperative services organization within your industry to support a sector child care program
- When possible, provide unused real estate for use as early care and education facilities
Adopt child-friendly policies and procedures to alleviate the cost and demand for child care
- Flex-Time Options
- Family Friendly Leave Policies