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Open daycare spots difficult to find in Glenwood Springs

Four-year-olds Aaliyah Salinas-Baker (left) and Chloe Salinas make "coffee" together by mixing sand and water during recess outside at the Our School Preschool in south Glenwood.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Parents of young children have extremely limited options when it comes to child care in Glenwood Springs.

“It is terrible,” said Megan Pluger, director of Our School, which has provided daycare services in Glenwood Springs since 1997.

“I have been at our school for 14 years and even my son, who is going to be turning 20, when we were trying to get him into Our School it was a two-year wait — which is still what it is,” Pluger said.



Pluger said Our School has 33 spots in and well over 200 people on an ever-growing waiting list.

“Every other day we get more and more calls from families that are moving in from bigger cities,” Pluger said.



“With COVID I think a lot of people are escaping bigger cities, then they are shocked because Denver has a plethora of daycares, and here it’s so limited.”

There are 19 daycares currently licensed through the state in Glenwood Springs, according to the Colorado Office of Early Childhood. In March of 2020, there were 21 daycares licensed in Glenwood Springs. In May and June of 2020, only 19 daycares were licensed in Glenwood Springs, according to the data.

Pluger said Our School is trying their best to support the community.

“But we need help because there are more and more families coming here,” she added.

COVID-19 has made it increasingly difficult to find an open spot in a daycare due to safety restrictions that cut the number of children allowed in a daycare at one time.

“That cut our preschool class in half when they first set up the policies and procedures for safety,” Pluger said.

“We’re getting closer to being at full capacity, but we’re still not quite there. So far we haven’t had to close due to COVID.”

Pluger still laments having to tell a parent that there’s such a long waiting list.

“It’s kind of a living, breathing wait list. It’s definitely taken a toll on me too because it’s a dream crusher,” Pluger said. “They can’t find care, so one of them has to watch the kiddos. That means no working. It’s insane. My heart goes out to teachers and the families that have been dealing with this stuff, especially with the pandemic.”

Four-year-old Olivia McGarth flies down the slide during recess at the Our School Preschool in south Glenwood.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

That was the case for Janice Morgan, an employee at Valley View Hospital.

Morgan’s husband had to stay home from work to care for their young daughter who will turn 4 this month.

“It’s tough to go off of only one income in the Valley,” Morgan said.

Morgan signed up for many waiting lists and was able to get her daughter into the Valley View Early Learning Center, which was located in St. Barnabas Episcopal Church.

Morgan had high hopes when Little CO Company, owned by Maggie Brown, announced plans to renovate a residence at 536 S. Hyland Park Drive into a daycare facility that would care for over 40 children.

Brown applied for a special use permit from the Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission in January, but revoked the permit in early March due to legal backlash from neighboring residents in the Hyland Park area.

Morgan said her husband has started taking on seasonal jobs but it’s still difficult to balance their work schedules and ensure someone can stay home with their toddler.

“If you look at just the population of each city and how it’s grown and our child care options haven’t—I don’t know how to fix it,” Pluger said, noting that those who do wait for openings.

“We need care in this valley. Us care providers feel like Debbie Downers. Parents are just shocked at how long it can possibly take.”

smarvel@postindependent.com

Number of daycares in Glenwood Springs:

2021

March: 19

January: 20

2020

March: 21

January: 21

Source: Colorado Office of Early Childhood


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