The Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce has a new member with an eye on kids and child care.
Welcoming them to Buena Vista, the chamber held a ribbon-cutting for Salida-based Chaffee County Early Childhood Council.
The Early Childhood Council is a non-profit serving ages 0-8 that facilitates a broad partnership across the communities of Chaffee County to identify and address local needs related to early childhood.
The council collaborates with many diverse community partners with the shared mission to build a sustainable system of local services to ensure that all Chaffee County children have the supports they need to start school ready to learn and that families have access to a variety of resources that foster healthy development for children.
The council’s top priority is to provide access to quality childcare for Chaffee County families, it said in a press release. As most parents know, there is a great need for licensed childcare in Chaffee County, especially for infants and toddlers.
There are currently only four licensed home childcare providers that care for infants and toddlers and those providers only have two slots each for children under the age of 2 – that is only eight slots for children under the age of 2 in the entire county.
There are currently only five licensed childcare centers that care for toddlers, and they have a 1-to-5 adult/child ratio. To make matters worse, there are no open slots among these licensed providers – they all have a waiting list.
Due to this childcare crisis, the council’s top priority is to recruit Chaffee County residents to become licensed home childcare providers and support them from understanding and obtaining licensing, to applying for grants after their application is approved.
The Colorado Department of Human Services is also offering monthly awards, bonuses and incentives for new providers, along with various grants that a new provider can use to start, set up and maintain their home childcare center.