City should admit it was wrong, let back child care facilities
Aspenites have become too familiar with lamenting the loss of businesses serving working-class locals. Unwilling to miss out on the fun, the city is getting in on the act of closing long-existing, local-owned, local-serving businesses. Their target? Pre-K childcare.
In a change that had the best intentions, Kids First and the city of Aspen collaborated to tighten lease restrictions at the Yellow Brick Building, which is home to several separate child care providers. Rather than the intended outcome of pressuring providers to be open more days, these lease restrictions will instead drive two long existing providers out of business and destabilize day care for 100 working families.
In both papers, officials have responded. Rather than admitting an inadvertent wrong and revisiting the issue, they are digging their heels in and casting blame at the child care providers. Both the city manager and Kids First board say they look forward to finding new day care providers who can meet their new lease requirements. Either they are wildly naïve that there is a stockpile of qualified educators just hanging out in the valley waiting to be employed or, worse, they have already discussed some back-room deal to slide an existing provider into the Yellow Brick once they drive existing child care businesses out.
To Aspen and Kids First: It is OK that what seemed like a good idea is not working out as imagined. These are tough times and making the hard policy decisions that improve quality of life for families in Aspen is not easy. But this is wrong. Do not stay this course and drive more local-owned, local-serving businesses out. Reconsider your proposed lease. Do not pull stable child care from 100 Aspen families.
James and Kate Spencer