Cash infusions to shorten waiting time for El Paso County child care program

Author: Jakob Rodgers, The Gazette - February 17, 2018 - Updated: February 17, 2018

Two-year-old Brian Quidachay plays with plastic dinosaurs at the Clock Child Care and Learning Center.( Gazette 2003 file photo)

The waiting list for a cash-strapped child care subsidy program could end by mid-summer, the program’s director said Friday.

The Colorado Child Care Assistance Program recently received two funding boosts – one from state lawmakers, and the other from Capitol Hill – that could allow El Paso County officials to begin accepting new families in the coming months, said Julie Krow, executive director of the El Paso County Department of Human Services.

The state’s Joint Budget Committee recently approved a statewide supplemental funding request for $7.25 million, of which El Paso County would receive $630,000.

And Congress also gave initial approval for an extra $5.8 billion for such child care programs across the country. That could translate to about $35 million in funding for Colorado, and an estimated $1.5 million to $2.2 million for El Paso County, Krow said.

The federal cash infusion still needs to pass another vote in March, and it could take several months for the money to flow to the state, Krow said.

However, she called it “a positive first step.”

“There’s an ending sight for wait lists, but it’s not clear if that will happen before June 30 or not,” Krow said.

The program offers child care subsidies to low-income and impoverished families, and it serves more than 3,200 children in El Paso County. However, a $2.25 million budget shortfall in December forced the county program’s leaders to limit new families.

As of Wednesday, 132 families and 196 children were on the waiting list.

Jakob Rodgers, The Gazette

Jakob Rodgers, The Gazette