Child Care Crunch, April 2000

Denver Women's Commission
Child Care Crunch, April 2000

April 10, 2000

Prepared for Colorado Woman News
By Chaer Robert

Child Care Crunch

What can the State Legislature do to alleviate child care problems? The Interim Committee of Child Care met between August and October of 1999, hearing from various experts and concerned individuals. Chaired by Senator Dottie Wham, with Rep. Kay Alexander as Vice-Chair, the eleven legislators developed ten bills:

SB 19 by Senator Wham and Representative Alexander-- Consolidated Child Care Services—Builds on existing child care pilot sites to develop early childhood training plans. It would also set up a voluntary child care credentialing system for those who work in the pilot sites.

SB 22 by Senator Tebedo and Representative Alexander – Inspections of Child Care Facilities—Requires the Colorado Department of Human Services to respond to serious complaints against child facilities within 48 hours. Increases the number of child care inspectors through temporary contracts.

SB 27 by Senator Pascoe and Representative S. Williams--Colorado Preschool —Increases the number of slots for younger children. This bill was killed.

SB 51 by Senator Wham and Representative Spradley -- Child Care Omnibus —Allows transfer of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) dollars to Title XX Child Care. Formalizes the statewide network of child care resource and referrals.

SB 62 by Senator Arnold and Representative Tupa --Criminal History Records Checks—Requires the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to check federal records when conducting criminal background checks on applicants for child care providers.

HB 1019 by Representative Spradley and Senator Tebedo -Creation of a Sales and Use Tax Exemption—Would exempt child care providers from paying sales tax. This bill was killed.

HB 1020 by Representative Alexander and Senator Wham --Child Care Commission—Establishes a standing commission to track child care issues.

HB 1029 by Representative Tupa and Senator Pascoe –Eligibility for Colo Child Care Assistance Program -raises the income level counties are required to serve to from 130% to 150% of poverty. Federal poverty level varies with family size. For a family of three FPL is $14,150. The bill allows counties to serve those from 185% to 225% of poverty. Allows counties to serve those who move above that ceiling for an additional 6 months.

HB 1030 by Representative Hefley and Senator Linkhart—Tax Credit for Promotion of Child Care—Would have allowed a tax credit for businesses helping employees with child care. This bill was killed.

HB 1203 by Representative S. Williams and Senator Pascoe--Child Care Work Tax Credit—Would have added a refundable income tax credit for individual child care workers who stay with the same facility for more than six months. The amount of the credit increased based on education. This bill was killed.

Quality, quantity and affordability are frequently used to describe the three core problems of child care.

QUALITY

Two bills address the basic safety issues of the existing child care providers: SB 22 and SB 62. The Consolidated Child Care Services (SB 19) addresses the other end—the elements of high quality child care. The financial bonuses to encourage child care workers to stay in the field ( HB 1203) addressed the high turnover rate of providers. Frequent turnover is disruptive to the children and reflects the loss of experienced workers to higher paying fields. Nationally, the average wage for child care workers is $7.00 -- $9.00 per hour. Other jobs pay more, with less responsibility and more chance for advancement. This results in a turnover rate of 67 % per year. Low wages combine with a booming economy has caused some child care centers to close because they cannot find staff. It has also caused many child care home providers to seek different work. This bill died early in the session.

QUANTITY

The only bill directly increasing the number of child care slots available was SB 27, which would have added 1000 slots per year to the Colorado Preschool Program. It was killed. The Sales Tax Exemption for existing child care, may have helped, in a small way, some financially troubled centers survive. It, however, was killed early in the session.

AFFORDABILITY

Business who helped subsidize employee child care costs would have received a tax credit under HB 1030. This bill died early in the session. Some additional low wage workers may be eligible for child care assistance under HB 1029. Most counties, however, are already serving those somewhat about poverty level. Allowing counties to continue subsidies for six months after a person’s income moves above the ceiling may help ease the transition to self-sufficiency.

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