Colorado has a problem. It’s the obscenely high cost of childcare. One State Senator took a stab at trying to fix the problem and, now, is taking barbs instead of thanks. Sen. Lundberg suggested that licensing should be required for only for home child care facilities with greater than ten children. The theory is that if Colorado had more child care facilities, the cost would come down. Here are the facts about the cost of childcare in Colorado.
Colorado has 279,473 children under the age of six according to a 2014 report, yet the state licenses just a fraction of the needed capacity. Not coincidentally (we took econ, too), Colorado also consistently ranks among the least affordable states for childcare. In fact, according to a Pew Research study, Colorado ranks as the seventh most expensive state in the country. On average, in Colorado a year of child care costs $12,736 in contrast to the national average of $11,666 per year, according to a 2011 report.
These numbers look even more troubling when you look at the cost of childcare as a percentage of income. Here, Colorado is the second-worst state in the country, only “bested” by New York. The Qualistar 2013 chart below shows the numbers that go into making Colorado the second most expensive state in the union for childcare.
The cost of care as a percentage of state median income for a married couple is 15.3%, but for a single mom, it’s nearly half (47.8%) of her income. For some parents, childcare must exceed rent. But, what if you have two kids? Surely, there’s a way to get discounts? Most daycare websites we visited provided a slight discount (maybe $50-60 per month), but we’re still talking about $60 off of a nearly $1,100 per month bill. With two kids, according to the state average above, that would still be over $2,100 per month or approximately 100% of a single mom’s income.
Opponents of the bill say that the cost to set up a child care facility are minimal (and the examples used are), but they clearly haven’t read the regulations, which mandate bizarre things like outdoor spaces must have more than one kind of surface (what’s wrong with grass?) and tough education requirements for caregivers (does anyone really expect their babysitter to have a bachelors degree?). Further, the Denver Post seems to conflate inspections with safety regulations with child development nicety regulations. A fence around a swimming pool seems reasonable. Mandatory shade in outdoor areas seems a little in the weeds. In the Denver Post article, the constant mantra is that a home care center was inspected, problems were found, nothing was done, and someone got hurt. So, isn’t the problem, then, that problems with bad apples aren’t addressed by the state?
Those who protest Sen. Lundberg’s proposal to expand the number of childcare facilities without providing a solution of their own (we’re looking at you, Dems), risk the financial well-being of Colorado families. This is a real problem, and it needs a serious solution.
In the state of the union, President Obama suggested that the United States have a national babysitting corps (in so many words). Perhaps Democrats are simply, like healthcare, trying to drive us toward such a solution, which would be the final link to a cradle to grave dependence on government. At least Lundberg is trying to fix the problem. Once again, State Senate Democrats are proving that they’re more interested in scoring political points than addressing the very real issues Colorado families face.