Thirty percent of people in Colorado live in a child care desert, census data shows

DENVER -- Thirty percent of people in Colorado live in a child care desert, according to a new report from a progressive think tank.

Center for American Progress complied the data using census information and found many communities in Colorado have more than three times as many children as licensed child care slots.

One of those neighborhoods is Denver's Globeville and Elyria-Swansea.

An area where skyrocketing rent and lack of care options have forced many parents to stay home with their kids or use informal child care options to go back to work.

"If you don't have childcare, how do you work?" Natalie Martinez with Focus Points Family Resource Center said.

"I was about to quit my job because I didn't have anyone to take care of my son," Lucrecia Escobedl, a mother of two who lives in the community, told Denver7.

Escobedl said she spent over a month searching for care for her second child, but when she finally found care, "it was a little too expensive, for me," she said.

Colorado constantly ranks among the most expensive states for licensed child care.

On average, child care centers cost nearly $15,000 a year for infants and $11,000 for preschoolers, according to Child Care Aware of America.

"It's been a sustained problem here in the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhood for decades," Martinez said.

The report found the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhood only has three child care options for nearly 700 kids under the age of five.

"In the end, they let me bring my son to my job with me so that worked," explained Escobedl.

Escobedl is one of the lucky ones.

"We've heard from families that it's really difficult for them to maintain their employment status," Nicole Riehl with Denver's Early Childhood Council said.

Riel is the nonprofit's director of programs and development. Denver's Early Childhood Council is trying to bring more licensed care to the community by licensing informal home care run by friends and family.

"Many families do turn to informal caregivers, family friends, neighbors down the street," she said. "We are trying to create at least eight new child care facilities in child care homes."

The nonprofit is using grant money to create new, licensed informal facilities and hopes to have them open by August of 2018.

"To be able to work a full-time job, I need child care," Escobedl said.

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