Solving the crisis in childcare
The city of Aspen has over $3 million in dedicated childcare funds.
These monies were approved by the voters to provide our community and children with the very best in childcare. There is simply no need for the future of Little Feet to be in crisis over a $8,000 grant. Working to eliminate quality of care and financial issues, either under the current board or new management, should not happen under the shadow of “closing the doors.”
It is time to acknowledge that infant care, with its required higher staffing ratios, will always lose money. Infant care spaces are currently 100 percent full, with waiting lists, at all our daycare centers. Perhaps a long-term shift in direction is required, and Little Feet could evolve into an infant-only center to satisfy overall community needs.
I would urge the city to fund more than just the three-month subsidies requested and end the ongoing uncertainty of the center’s parents and care providers. Exploring various options for reorganization and ensuring a smooth transition to a sustainable program will take time.
Over the years almost all of our centers have faced one crisis or another; unplanned-for major capital expenses, loss of corporate sponsorship, gaps in enrollment or overall program solvency.
This is not really different; the Little Feet space is very valuable to the overall provision of childcare, and the prime concern right now should be how the daily needs it fulfills are handled and getting new professional guidance and direction for the long-term.
We charge our public schools with providing the best education possible for our kids, not turning a profit. The annual cost of childcare today for working families often exceeds the cost of full-time community college. Childcare providers do so out of love for children, not because it is a lucrative career.
Aspen’s parents and childcare community, with the city’s resources and backing, just need the time to come together (as they always do) to resolve the current dilemma.
Rachel E. Richards
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