DENVER -- A new report shows Colorado has one of the highest child care costs in the country.
Child Care Aware of America ranks Colorado as the fifth least-affordable state.
The Hope Center, in Denver, gives children an education at an early age--and it gives their parents hope they're doing all they can to prepare their children for their start in life.
But without financial assistance, 85% of the students here could not attend the highly-ranked child-care facility.
Extended daycare costs more than $1,200 a month.
“It’s definitely a necessity to get the assistance,” says mother of three, Kezia Robinson.
Her 4-year-old son, Kyle, is her second son to attend The Hope Center.
“Families want to work; they want to provide for their children. But if you’re only working to pay for daycare or after-school care, that cuts off what children truly need," she says.
And despite the costs, demand is growing.
“We know especially over the last six, seven years, the need for fulltime care, more than eight hours, has changed drastically within our center,” says the center's president Gerie Grimes. She says they've had a waiting list for years.
The federal government considers affordable childcare 10% of a family's income.
But in Colorado, parents pay the fifth highest in the country.
It costs $9,619 a year to place a 4-year-old in center-based childcare. That's 11.3% of the median income for a married couple, and 36.9% of a single mom's income.
Costs jump for infants at $12,736 a year--or 15% of a married couple's median income--and 48.8% of a single mom's wages.
“It really is a head scratcher for us,” says Gladys Wilson, President of Qualistar Colorado, about why Colorado child care costs are so high.
One guess is the high number of child care facilities in urban areas--which are traditionally more expensive than rural areas. But the impact of high-dollar resorts, like Vail and Aspen, could be another factor.
Qualistar Colorado is a statewide non-profit whose mission is to improve the quality of child care.
Wilson says it’s hard to believe child care in Colorado is more expensive than in California and Hawaii. And she worries these higher costs could push more families to unlicensed care.
“There many programs that do a good job that are not licensed. But you don't have anyone making sure that's happening. So you’re taking a chance," says Wilson.
Parents aren't taking chances at The Hope Center. They do whatever they can to enroll their kids here--hopeful they're sending them off with a good foundation for their future.
To save on child care costs, Qualistar Colorado suggests going to home-based care instead of center-based care.
Also, apply for government child care assistance. Ask child care facilities about scholarships.
You can research child care providers across the state at www.qualistar.orgAlertMe