Fraser grant to help raise child care wages
Fraser approved grant funding to the Grand Kids Learning Center to make up for budget shortfalls stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and allow raises for the center’s staff.
The Fraser Town Board decided on July 7 to give the Grand Kids Learning Center $50,000 following presentations from Grand Kids Learning Center Director Ashley Bobo, as well as an update from Grand Beginnings Executive Director Katy Hale in June.
Bobo choked up at the July 7 meeting thanking the board for the contribution.
“I just can’t say enough, thank you so, so much,” Bobo said. “We’re so very grateful.”
Between the COVID-19 pandemic and a 2018 merge with another child care center, the Grand Kids Learning Center ended 2020 with a deficit around $46,000 and budgeted 2021 planning for a $54,000 deficit.
Like most Grand County businesses, Grand Kids is experiencing a shortage of employees that the center’s officials are hoping a wage increase can help address.
The starting rate was $13 per hour with the average employee making $14.19 per hour. Between April and July, five teachers left Grand Kids Learning Center due to housing or lack of pay. The starting wage will rise to a $15 per hour.
For at least one position, the raise was enough to entice a former employee back to teaching.
“When I told her that we would be able to do raises, she accepted a job back,” Bobo said.
Even though it’s more needed now than ever, the center is currently unable to run on Fridays because of a lack of staff, Bobo said. The center applied a state waiver so that if they’re able to hire more people, the center might be able to start the Friday programs back up again.
According to Hale, the labor shortage isn’t limited to Grand Kids, and all of Grand County’s child care providers have openings. The shortage means that about 60% of children in Grand County don’t have access to a licensed child care provider, and more than 75 children are on the waitlist for Grand Kids Learning Center.
The money from the town will also keep the families from seeing significant tuition increases of $10 per day, though Bobo said tuition was raised $3 per day at the beginning of 2021 to help offset the raises in the future.
Fraser plans to use American Rescue Act funds to cover the grant.
In other business:
• Fraser approved a $20,000 grant from the American Rescue Act funds for KFFR 88.3 FM.
• A letter expressing concerns about the proposed concrete batch plant on County Road 721 was approved to be sent to county commissioners. Concerns included the need for a traffic study, consultation with the county engineer, completion of needed permits and documentation of a legal water source.
• The board approved a letter of support for the Fraser Valley Parkway to be sent to county commissioners.
• An agreement with CORE Consultants to compile survey data on flood risks in town was approved.
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