Affordable and quality child care in Larimer County is critically hard to find, especially for families facing financial hardships. Larimer Thrive by Five reports that current licensed providers can only accommodate 16% of infants and 36% of toddlers, leaving the majority of families unable to access licensed child care. 

The high cost of living in Larimer County, exceeding the national average by almost 7%, is driven in part by child care expenses. On average, a Larimer County family spends 12-20% of their income on child care, ranking fifth highest nationally. This financial strain not only burdens families but also impacts our workforce, hindering economic growth. 

The escalating cost of child care forces many families to leave the workforce or seek assistance programs. Larimer County’s Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) is now limiting new enrollments due to the cessation of emergency federal funds from the pandemic, exacerbating the child care crisis, especially for families living at or below the poverty level. Historically, freezes or limitations in CCCAP enrollment lead to increased applications for child care assistance through nonprofit programs like the Larimer County Child Care Fund. However, the nonprofit sector alone cannot meet this growing need. 

To address these pressing challenges, we urgently require a sustainable funding solution unique to Larimer County. Current federal, state, and local funding falls short. We must collaborate across public, private, and philanthropic sectors to bolster comprehensive early childhood services. 

Here’s how you can take action today to bridge the child care affordability and accessibility gap: 
  1. Support Child care Scholarships and Expansion: Contribute to United Way of Larimer County’s child care fund. Your donation directly funds child care scholarships for families, grants for nonprofit child care providers, and vital capital projects to enhance accessibility. Plus, Colorado taxpayers who donate $250 or more can claim a 50% income tax credit through the Colorado Child Care Contribution Tax Credit. 
  2. Join the Conversation: Sign up for Larimer Thrive by Five’s newsletter to delve deeper into this critical issue. Learn about local strategies and join us in shaping lasting solutions for our community’s child care needs. Together, we can create a brighter future for families. 
  3. Attend and Learn: Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce, Early Childhood Council of Larimer County, and United Way of Larimer County will host Elliot Haspel as a keynote speaker for a lunch n’ learn, “Every Employee Depends On Someone Who Depends On Child care: How Business Can Play A Role In Solving The Childcare Crisis In Larimer County” at the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce (225 S. Meldrum Street, Fort Collins) from 11:30-1 on Tuesday, June 11. Elliot is a nationally-recognized child and family policy expert and commentator, with specialties in early childhood and education issues, as well as the linkage between climate change and early childhood. Joy Sullivan, President and CEO of United Way of Larimer County, and Christina Taylor, CEO of Early Childhood Council of Larimer County, will also share insights. Registration is free and includes lunch.
About Early Childhood Council of Larimer County 

Early Childhood Council of Larimer County is an independent nonprofit organization that rallies support, resources, and awareness to ensure every young child in our community has quality childhood experiences so they thrive from day one. Learn more at 

Larimer Thrive by Five is an early childhood education public awareness campaign aimed at increasing knowledge about the importance of high-quality early childhood child care and education and moving people to action. Learn more at 

About United Way of Larimer County

For over 65 years, United Way of Larimer County (UWLC) has been a cornerstone of community support, dedicated to ensuring local individuals and can access the resources they need to thrive. Child care lies at the heart of UWLC’s focus areas of financial stability and you and education. Last year, UWLC achieved a significant milestone, surpassing the $1 million mark in funds raised to directly support access to high-quality child care—a pressing community need vital for both parental employment and children’s development.

To learn more about United Way of Larimer County, please visit

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