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Want someone to watch your kids?

Alison Miller
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY ” They say you should never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. That’s why mothers and child-care centers say that if you want someone to watch you kids while you’re at work, get on the list the day you find out you’re pregnant.

What some would consider to be the most precious of commodities in the county ” child care ” can be very difficult to find when you need it.

“I was on the wait list for child care for three years,” said Suzanne Smith, mother of one. “I put my name on every single list in the valley right when I found out I was pregnant. You have to.”

With a wait list of 70 to 100 children at any given time, Smith couldn’t be happier that she was finally accepted, she said.

“I was driving from Eagle to Gypsum for child care, and then to Edwards to work,” Smith said. “It took a while to get in to Children’s Garden, but it is worth it.”

The reason it took so long for Smith to get in?

It’s simple supply and demand, said Robin Henzler, director of the Children’s Garden of Learning.

“As soon as you’re pregnant, get on a list or you may not get any child care at any of the centers,” Henzler said. “We have many unborn children on the list right now, that’s how difficult it can be to get in.”

Right now, the child-care center only has two openings coming up in June, which is when the center does enrollment for the upcoming year, Henzler said.

Preference is given to families who live or work in Vail, often making it very limited to get other children in, Henzler said.

Mary Jo Junis knows what it’s like to not be able to get a child into day care, she said.

The stay-at-home mom recently moved here with her husband, Robert, and is unable to go to work because she couldn’t get her son into day care, she said.

“When it’s December and you are calling for a slot, it’s not going to happen,” Junis said. “I called all the places I could find and was told it would be at least a year wait.

“I finally gave up and decided it wasn’t worth waiting because he will be school age by the time something opens up.”

Not wanting to wait a year for childcare led Heath Fetz to an abrupt career change, she said.

Fetz was an administrative assistant for almost 10 years in Denver before she moved to Avon and decided she should stay home with her 14-month-old daughter and try to get into the baby-sitting business.

“I just moved here, so I’m not up and running yet, but I think I can help a lot of people who can’t wait to go back to work,” Fetz said. “When I called all the places I was told that my chances were slim unless I could find an at-home caregiver.”

It is frustrating to not be able to easily find child care, Smith said.

Smith grew-up on the East Coast where childcare is extremely easy to come by, she said.

“Here, it’s hard to find and hard to afford,” Smith said.

But that’s not news to Henzler, who said she understands parents’ frustrations.

The Children’s Garden of Learning receives numerous phone calls and e-mails from upset and eager parents every week, Henzler said.

“I know it’s frustrating, but we keep the center very full,” Henzler said. “Tuition pays the bills, so when I’m not full my budget is in trouble.”

Staff writer Alison Miller can be reached at 748-2928 or armiller@vaildaily.com.


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