Childcare costs in Colorado are among the highest in the nation.
A new report out from the Colorado Children's Campaign shows Colorado is the third most expensive state in the country for child care for four year olds, and local experts say the problem is even worse here in Mesa County.
Experts say costs in Mesa County are actually among the cheapest in the state, but the problem is, the cost of living here eats up so much of a family’s income, there's not much money left to pay for it.
Hilltop Child and Family Center Director Cathy Story says the average cost of child care for a four year old here in Mesa County racks up to $7,- to 8,000 per year.
Story says child care centers across the county are seeing more and more parents cutting back hours, even pulling kids out of care completely, because they just can't pay for it.
Athena Wright has three little boys.
She works part–time at their daycare, making the big expense a little more affordable, but this not her only job and her husband works full time too, "to be able to feed them, and even pay the house bill, or the electricity or anything like that has become overwhelming for us".
Wright says she and her husband, who work a combined 110–hours a week put 50% of their combined incomes toward child care.
Story says making sure children get a good start on their development is critical, but falling further and further out of reach at price families can pay.
Story says the Colorado Childcare Assistance Program can help parents pay for care on a sliding scale, but it also contributes to another cyclical problem, in that it pays for most but not all of the care, and care centers are left to make up the difference.