Pitkin County assesses child-care availability | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County assesses child-care availability

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – A group of businesses, parents, governmental organizations and others is working to increase the quality and sustainability of child care for kids with parents who live and work in Pitkin County.

The Childcare Capacity Planning Committee recently completed a child-care survey as part of its efforts to further understand the issue. The committee received more than 350 responses from around the Roaring Fork Valley.  

About 70 percent of respondents said they felt their employers were family friendly because they were flexible, according to Shirley Ritter, Kids First director.

Respondents identified financial assistance for child care and guaranteed spots in child care as other needs.

In September 2009, there were only 24 licensed spaces for infants in Pitkin County, and yet in 2008, Aspen Valley Hospital recorded roughly 300 births. And survey respondents, most of whom live and work in Aspen, estimated their households would be growing in the next five years.

Of the respondents, 60 percent indicated that a lack of child care would affect their ability to work or stay in the valley.

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Child care, particularly infant care, is not a money-making business in Aspen, according to Ritter. It’s not viable without some sort of subsidization, she said.

The Childcare Capacity Planning Group is working on ways to develop a long-range plan to address child-care capacity and to foster partnerships among several employers and businesses to address the shortage of child-care spaces, specifically for infants and toddlers.

The Childcare Capacity Planning Committee was convened by Kids First and the City of Aspen. The group plans to continue it work and will be reaching out to the community through other mechanisms as it moves forward.