Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Kinder Haus closure adds to child care crisis


GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT) -- Some parents are left scrambling to find childcare after a local learning center suddenly shut down.

Kinder Haus Learning Center closed down with little notice at the end of last week, leaving about 150 families having to find alternative plans. Mesa County Public Health says it was the largest provider in the county.

For Lexi Wright, finding a new child care provider is difficult for two reasons. Her son, Jace, has autism, and there is a simple lack of child care providers in the region.

"It's tough for people to understand he has meltdowns and a lot of child care providers don't know how to deal with meltdowns," Wright said.

Mesa County Public Health on said Monday there are about 4,200 child care slots in the county, which covers about a quarter of the county's needs. This year, the health department began a new initiative called 'Child Care 8,000' to work to nearly double the availability of child care up to 8,000 spaces by 2020.

Part of the issue is the pay for providers and professionals.

"To become a lead teacher you have to take an equivalent of about nine credit hours and about 1,200 practical hours," said Jeff Kuhr with Mesa County Public Health. Employees make slightly above state minimum wage starting out.

The county is working to create better relationships with providers, try to recruit more professionals, find more collaborative solutions for providers, and work with businesses in the area to invest more into child care.

"I look for there to be more partnerships," Kuhr said.

Wright said that her mother has been able to cut back some hours and take days off in the short term to help care for Jace. She also has had to cut back on some work hours for now.

"Other than that I'm going to be really struggling," Wright said. "I have a mortgage to pay and I have a car payment to make so this is going to really affect me."