Letter: Childcare must become county’s priority issue | SkyHiNews.com

Letter: Childcare must become county’s priority issue

Our current worker shortage is clear: 40% of county employee positions are vacant and businesses’ help wanted signs have been gathering dust for a while. We all know housing is a big part of the issue. Patrick Brower’s March 26 column connected the dots to another factor: the shortage of affordable childcare.

As so often happens, women who want to work find daycare too expensive to justify working, and that’s if they can even find it! (Patrick Brower’s column in March makes clear that often, they can’t.) While the average wage in Grand County is $37,648 per year, early childcare for an infant is $15,000-$17,500 per year. Toddlers run about $11,750 per year and pre-K about $10,250 — hardly affordable on the average wage. It is estimated that a family of four can live on an income of $71,000/year. Without childcare, one parent must be paid almost twice the average wage in Grand County. According to Katy Hale, Executive Director of Grand Beginnings, the biggest limiting factor is attracting teachers. As with other community services, early childhood teachers simply cannot afford to live here.

Grand County Democrats recently adopted affordable childcare as one of six priorities for our county. Senator Michael Bennet has championed direct relief through a temporary Child Tax Credit in the American Rescue Plan, giving parents up to $300 per month per child. The credit reduced childhood poverty, but making it permanent faces opposition in Congress.

Grand County Dems are organizing to support solutions here at home. We’ve all seen our property taxes climb as assessed values go up — we’d like to ask our Commissioners where that extra money is going. Brower showed how this issue is tangled up with our worker shortage; Grand County Dems want to focus on making our home a little more livable for all of us. Stay tuned!

Zachariah Falconer-Stout

Co-chair, Grand County Democrats



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