Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - November 20, 2017 


On our Monday nationwide rundown; decision day for the Keystone XL pipeline; a border patrol agent killed in the line of duty in Texas; and time is running out to comment on fees that could double or triple at many National Parks in 2018.

Daily Newscasts

Addressing Colorado's 'Child Care Deserts'

Sheila Custard, like many Coloradans  especially working single parents  struggles to find dependable and, most critically, affordable child care. (Joe Mahoney/Mahoney Images)
Sheila Custard, like many Coloradans especially working single parents struggles to find dependable and, most critically, affordable child care. (Joe Mahoney/Mahoney Images)
July 19, 2017

DENVER - Sheila Custard says her stomach ties up in knots on weekends when she thinks ahead to Mondays and Tuesdays, the two days she struggles to find child care for her 4-year-old daughter.

Custard, who moved to Colorado a year ago and works for an Aurora human-resources company, usually can count on family for help on Wednesdays through Fridays. She said the lack of reliable, affordable care keeps her up at night.

"I am constantly stressed over wondering if I'm going to have someone the next day, otherwise I've had to call into work," she said. "I am thankful that I have a job that actually is understanding to that, but I lose money in the process."

Custard, like nearly half of all Coloradans, lives in a "child care desert" - communities where the demand exceeds the options. A report by the Center for American Progress showed that Custard's zip code in northeast Denver has only nine child-care facilities to serve nearly 2,500 children younger than age five.

Sarah Daily, a research scientist with Child Trends, said access to preschool and child care can have positive effects on the health of both parents and kids. She added that quality care in the first five years of a child's life also can help close achievement and development gaps for disadvantaged and poor children.

"Those neural connections that are formed as a young child experiences the world around them really establishes the foundation for their learning development for the rest of their life," she said. "And so ideally, you would want all children to be in a really high-quality care setting."

Colorado families pay, on average, between $6,000 and $17,000 a year for child care depending on where they live, according to a qualistar.org2014 Qualistar report.

For financial support, Custard turned to the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program, a state agency that helps homeless and low-wage parents and those looking for work or enrolled in school. However, she said the process has been long and the paperwork can be challenging.

"It's extremely expensive," she said. "In-home care is as much as it is to go to a day-care facility, whether they're licensed or not. There's just a shortage of people as well that are willing to care for your children."

Only 23 percent of Colorado's 4-year-olds and just eight percent of 3-year-olds are enrolled in preschool, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.

The CAP report is online at americanprogress.org, the Qualistar report is at qualistar.org, and the NIEER research is at nieer.org.

---

This story was produced with original reporting from Chandra Thomas Whitfield for The Colorado Trust.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO