(The Center Square) – High operational costs are preventing 38% of Colorado’s children from accessing child care, according to a new report.
The report, which was compiled by the Common Sense Institute (CSI) and Executives Partnering to Invest in Children (EPIC), analyzed the total revenue and expenses of running a child care center and juxtaposes those findings against the regulatory environment where the centers operate.
“One of the most important elements a thriving economy and flourishing workforce is accessible and affordable child care,” Nicole Riehl, president and CEO of EPIC, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the business model for providing child care services in Colorado is failing and in desperate need of overhaul.”
According to the report, an average Colorado family spends approximately 18% of their monthly income on child care, or about $15,325 annually. That’s more than twice as high as the national average of 7%, as measured by the federal Department of Health and Human Services.
Colorado’s child care industry also continues to see consolidation, the report found. Between April 2018 and April 2021, more than 913 child care centers permanently closed in the state while just 486 new programs opened.
“The reality of that number translates into women staying out of the workforce and incredible strain on family budgets,” said Alexa Eastburg, a research analyst at CSI.
To begin rectifying these issues, the report suggests that Colorado lawmakers should focus on providing property tax and rent relief to child care businesses.
“Regulatory and policy shifts that help mitigate occupancy and other significant cost drivers can help balance costs to operators, supporting greater success and sustainability over time for child care, as well as impacting affordability to families and improved wages for staff,” the report said.