Waiting list begins for Miller Ranch child care
Beth Crick has a piece of advice for expectant mothers: Get your baby on a child care waiting list now.Because her husband works for Vail Resorts, her children get a priority spot at the company-run Prater Lane Child Care in Avon. Others aren’t so lucky.”I know that Vail Resorts has actually 92 children on their wait list,” Crick said. “It’s gotten to the point where parents put their child on any and every list just to get their child in somewhere.” Shovels haven’t even hit the ground for the planned Berry Creek Child Care Center, which will be built in Miller Ranch. Yet, Eagle County officials say they already have a waiting list of 30 families vying for 80 spots in the center.One thing is for sure. Kathleen Forinash, the county’s health and human services director, isn’t worried about filling up the new facility.”We know that the people living in Miller Ranch do tend to be families,” she said. There are about 50 children living in the affordable-housing development today.”The 80 spots will not meet all of the needs in the Edwards area,” Forinash said. “But it will help to really expand the capacity of child care spots in the county.”County officials have received resumes from architects interested in working on the project and a construction schedule should soon be developed, Forinash said. But as quickly as county officials say they are pursuing construction on the center, it doesn’t appear to be happening fast enough for some families. Demand for child care is so high that Carole Bukovich, Eagle resident and mother of three, said she knows of people who sign up for child care when they are pregnant.”It can be really difficult, especially for kids of certain ages,” she said.Parents of children under 2 have the hardest time finding child care. Care of infants and toddlers takes more staff, requires more space – to make room for cribs – and therefore costs more, Forinash said. According to an Eagle County survey, only 30 percent of children that age with both parents working are in child care. Some families have relatives in the area who can fill that void, Forinash said. Others have adjusted their work schedules so one parent can watch the kids at any given time.Child care costs also are hard to swallow, Bukovich said. “If you work full-time it’s $175 a week for one child,” she said. “You have to make a lot of money to afford that.”Child care at Miller Ranch will likely cost upwards of $30 a day range with slightly higher fees for younger children, Forinash said. This is on par with the average cost of care in the county, she said.To run the center, the county aims to hire an agency that will provide age-appropriate curriculum for the children. Enrollment at the new child care center is first-come, first-serve, and is limited to local families in which both parents work.”And we’ll make sure we’ll have a good program of parent involvement,” Forinash said. “It’s important to have a strong link between the family and the childcare center.” County officials have not determined which agency will run the center yet.The new child care center also will offer a special ‘business partnership rate.’ Businesses can buy out spots for employees requesting child care and then establish a reimbursement price, Forinash said. When a parent loses a job or must take a lower paying job, families tend to make other child care arrangements that are less ideal, but more affordable, Forinash said. But the desire for child care may be increasing as the region’s economy begins to pick up.”What we have noticed over the past couple of years is when we had a bit of an economic decline, the demand for child care went down,” Forinash said. “What has happened in recent months is that the waiting list has grown and expanded, and that may be an economic indicator.”Staff writer Tamara Miller can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 949-0555, ext. 607.
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