Colorado Ranked One of Least Affordable States for Child Care





Colorado Ranked One of Least Affordable

States for Child Care



Contact:  Shirley Ritter, Director of Kids First, City of Aspen, 920-5370 or

Aspen, CO – August 20, 2012– The national non-profit Child Care Aware® of America just released a report called Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2012 Report that showed that Colorado is one of the six least affordable states for child care.  The report says families across the country continue to struggle to afford quality child care and in most states, including Colorado, the average annual cost for center-based care for an infant was higher than a year’s in-state tuition and related fees at a four-year public college.  In addition, in every state and the District of Columbia, center-based child care costs for two children (an infant and a 4-year-old) exceeded annual average rent payments.


“Aspen and Pitkin County are lucky to have an organization like Kids First,” said Shirley Ritter, director of Kids First for the City of Aspen.  “What we have here is unique and we have the ability to help families with this basic need.  The report just proves once again how much our services are needed.”

The cost of full-time care for an infant in Aspen is over $17,000 a year and the cost of living in Aspen has been estimated to be 400% of the national average according to Ritter.  She said, “This is the very reason we offer childcare financial aid for working families, and help families with this cost. Aspen is unique in the state and nation, being able to offer this because Kids First receives funding from the .45% sales tax in the city, dedicated to affordable housing and childcare.  This report however highlights the fact this is a national issue and a growing problem here at home.”


While the report emphasizes the long-lasting impact of quality child care on a child’s development, behavior and cognitive abilities it highlights the notion that in America higher education receives public financing but early child care does not.  This continues to hurt families financially and compromise the quality of child care out there.

"During the critical years of birth through age five, 90 percent of a child’s brain is developed and essential learning patterns are established which affect school-readiness," said Ollie M. Smith, Child Care Aware® of America’s Interim Executive Director. "Affordability is important because for many families, the cost affects the settings they are able to choose. Parents want quality care. They want their children to be safe. But, too many families struggle with the cost of care as they hope for the best for their children." 

“Again, we are fortunate here to put a great deal of Kids First resources into quality improvements in our child care system,” said Ritter.  “We do Qualistar assessments, which are voluntary assessments that awards 0-4 stars for quality.  In Pitkin County we have two programs, a home and center based program that have earned four stars.  We are fortunate to also have six child care centers that have a 3 star rating.”

In order to improve child care and to help make child care more affordable nationwide, Kids First is advocating for the actions Child Care Aware® of America is recommending to Congress:

  • Require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to define minimally acceptable quality child care.
  • Require the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to study the true cost of quality care and to offer recommendations to Congress for financing to support quality options for parents.
  • Reauthorize Child Care and Development Block Grants and add requirements to improve the quality of care:
    • Require 40 hours of initial training and 24 hours of annual training in key areas such as CPR, first aid, early childhood development, child behavior/discipline and child abuse detection and prevention.
    • Require provider background checks, including fingerprint checks, to ensure child safety.
    • Require regular, unannounced inspections at least once a year (preferably more often) to ensure effective oversight.
  • Increase the quality set-aside to 12 percent, increasing over several years to 25 percent (on par with Head Start).

If you would like to know more about how to make childcare safer and more affordable contact Kids First at or 920-5370.  To see the Parents and the High Cost of Child Care: 2012 Report go to



Posted on Monday, August 20, 2012