A community’s culture can be recognized by the presence of services that support its citizens’ ability to thrive. Estes Park has not had adequate access to quality early care and education opportunities for local families for decades. The scarcity of early care options for families is prevalent across the state, as is the presence of local nonprofits serving as safety nets. In your community, the EVICS Family Resource Center supports families so they can thrive in our community and continues to build capacity, connect families to quality care, and support the existing workforce and emerging in early care and education.
Estes Park is a “childcare desert,” clearly identifying the lack of access to early care and education for families in our community. In Estes Park, there are three preschools and a daycare. To enroll in kindergarten, a child must be four years old. The only community center for early care and education serves children aged 2.5 to 5 years. Both licensed daycares can care for children from infant to age 5, but quality licensing guidelines only allow two infants. This equates to just four places allowed for infants and 12 places for children under 2.5 throughout the community. Lack of access to quality care and education creates barriers to a family’s ability to thrive and contributes to the decision-making that has often led young families to leave our community, which has a direct impact on our workforce, our economy and the services that support the local community.
Besides accessibility, there is affordability. Families must be able to bear the high cost of care. Early care and education are rightly expensive because they are delivered by professionals who are held to quality standards, annual professional development requirements, and state oversight. In Larimer County, families spent $12,000 a year last year as the average cost per child care and for infant care specifically, between $16 and $20,000. Families in Larimer County spent 37% of their income on
childcare, on average. This represents a household income for a family of 4 of $64,919 with 2 supported children under the age of 5.
Caring for children and guiding education is the most important job and impacts all sectors of our community; Early education experiences not only better prepare children for school, which translates into more effective spending for school districts, but they provide workforce assurance that supports our service-minded community. tourism. Everyone relies on someone who relies on access to early care and education.
EVICS firmly believes that every family should have what it needs to thrive. EVICS provides tuition assistance to eligible families, so they can access quality care. EVICS has provided over $70,000 in assistance in 2021, and so far 28 families have been connected this year with $28,000 in assistance.
Completing the elements necessary for adequate access to early care and education requires a trained and supported workforce. It’s expensive to live in our community, housing is hard to find and hard to afford. Workforce growth is key to providing more early care opportunities for families.
EVICS advocates and supports existing early care providers and educators and has responded to the need by developing a program to help anyone interested in becoming licensed and qualified to provide early care. The Licensing Cohort Program provides support and guidance through every step of the process of obtaining a home child care license at almost no cost.
EVICS also provides education and advocacy based on the needs of local families. Families We have the right to information and the opportunity to voice our concerns. The EVICS Family Resource Center is a welcoming space for families to be connected to resources, education, information and services that build on their existing strengths and support their individual goals. To ensure that we can continue to connect local families and young children to the resources they need, the EVICS Family Resource Center calls on the Village of Estes Park. So many partners come together to help EVICS deliver the vital services of family development, scholarship/early care, workforce development, parenting programs, early literacy programs and more Again. Through county and city sponsorships, Ride-A-Kart, Quality Inn, Aldrich Construction, Sweatshirt Center of Estes park, MacDonald Book Shop, First Colorado Realty, Lumpy Ridge Brewing Company, Bank of Colorado; and collaborations with the Rotary Club of Noon, local nonprofit partners, corporations, and individual donors, we are able to continue to provide what families need to thrive and inspire a community culture that supports audaciously children and families.
Be part of the village by joining the Kickin’ it for Kids family festival this Saturday, August 27, from 3 to 7 p.m. at Stanley Park. Play kickball, enjoy public participation activities, donate to specific efforts, send the kids to the Fun Zone to enjoy three bouncy houses, grab a hot dog and have some late summer fun while raising funds for local families.