Working parents forking over thousands for rising cost of childcare

By: Amy Lipman Email
By: Amy Lipman Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. Childcare costs are pinching working families' pockets, forcing some to make the choice to stay home with the kids instead of pursuing a career.

"We actually have seen a lot of families sometimes determining that it's too expensive," said Camille Chancellor, the director of Little Lambs Learning Center. "We do have more and more parents staying home."

But for those who want to continue working full-time, there's a price to pay.

Jennifer Landini, who works as a business banker at Wells Fargo, pays $1200 a month for her two children to go to childcare. Per child, that's $7200 a year, the equivalent of one year's in-state tuition at Colorado Mesa University.

"I would equate it to roughly a mortgage payment for a $200,000 house," Landini said.

In the past year, childcare tuition has gone up 3% across the country, according to a study by the nonprofit Child Care Aware of America.

Even though some centers here in the Grand Valley have kept their tuition steady, Chancellor said her center is feeling financial pressures from constantly government regulations, which limit the amount of children per teacher and per classroom.

"They keep lowering our ratio," she said. "We have child to adult ratio. Once you've lowered that, that's less income coming in."

One option for parents who are working low-income jobs, looking for work or in school is the Colorado Childcare Assistance Program, or CCCAP, which gives families money for all or part of the cost of childcare, but centers can choose if they want to participate in the program or not.

Mesa County Human Services distributes CCCAP for this area.

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