The average cost of center-based care for children ages 0-5 is nearly $1,200 per month per child in Larimer County. For many families that amount is simply not possible. At United Way of Larimer County, we believe investing in children is not only the right thing to do, it is also the best way to ensure a strong community and healthy local economy. This month, we spoke with an in-home child care provider about the importance of early education and with the Fort Collins Chamber of Commerce about the economic value of accessible child care.
When Cheryle Moser began caring for children in her Loveland home nearly 40 years ago, she did not realize that her career would touch the lives of hundreds of families. Since the birth of her second daughter, she has provided licensed care to children ages 0-5, opening her doors as early as 4 a.m. to meet the diverse needs in her community. Many of the families are grandparents raising grandchildren. Others are single parents with limited incomes.Moser typically has a full roster of children and rarely sees turnover as she not only provides loving, high-quality care but also accepts payment through the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP). However, many families do not qualify for CCCAP as they earn just over the income limit and are responsible for full tuition they often cannot afford. One mother with a child in Moser’s care worked tirelessly to achieve self-sufficiency only to decline a well-earned pay raise at work to keep her childcare benefits.
United Way’s expansion of the Larimer Child Care Fund supports families who do not currently receive or qualify for the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) and still need assistance with the high cost of licensed care for their children. United Way will provide ongoing funding for the scholarships and awarded over $380,000 in Spring 2022 for eligible families.
The Economic Role of Paid Child Care in the U.S. report released this year, found that one of the most fundamental roles played by child care is enabling parents to participate in the labor force and among U.S. families with a child under age 5, 91% have a working parent. When the pandemic hit, schools and child care centers quickly closed and parents were forced to leave their jobs to stay home with their children. According to the National Women’s Law Center, more than 2.3 million women left the U.S. labor force from February 2020-February 2021.
“The Fort Collins Area Chamber has had the honor of working alongside business and community partners to tackle the challenges of accessible and affordable child care. This is a tremendous step in the right direction to bridge the financial gap so many workers and their families face. We are thrilled to see the United Way take this important leadership role on this issue,” said Ann Hutchison, President & CEO of the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce.
When asked what motivates Moser to continue her work long after her own children have grown, she responds, “The kids and the need for consistent care.” As humble as she is kind, she repeatedly notes that all people in our community providing child care should be recognized as the heroes they are.
As humble as she is kind, she repeatedly notes that all people in our community providing child care should be recognized as the heroes they are.
Some of her favorite moments are when former students knock on her door as full-grown adults and enroll their own children in her care or when she notices a developmental issue in a child and makes a referral for screening services. Parents have told her that her care has completely changed the course of their child’s life. Moser smiles modestly, “All of the kids are one little family here.”
Through generous community donations, United Way of Larimer County has more than quadrupled its investment in childcare access and affordability over the last five years. All donations made to the Larimer Child Care Fund are eligible for the Colorado Child Care Contribution Tax Credit. This credit allows individuals and businesses to claim a 50% state income tax credit for qualified contributions.
Visit www.uwaylc.org/ChildcareFund to learn more, including how to apply for scholarships and donate to the fund.