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Colorado lawmakers considering child care funding as waiting list grows

January 27, 2018 Updated: January 29, 2018 at 1:57 pm
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Colorado state lawmakers are expected to decide next week whether to pump additional money into a cash-strapped child care program. Gazette file photo by Jerilee Bennett.

Colorado state lawmakers are expected to decide next week whether to pump additional money into a cash-strapped child care program.

The Joint Budget Committee is considering two proposals to boost funding for the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program, which offers child care subsidies to low-income and impoverished families. It serves more than 3,200 children in El Paso County.

The program's funding has stagnated, and El Paso County began putting families on a waiting list Jan. 1 amid a $2.25 million shortfall.

The waiting list has raised fears by child advocates and county human services officials that families would be forced to quit their jobs or enroll their children in low-quality or unlicensed facilities.

As of Jan. 16, 55 families and about 85 children were on the waiting list, said Julie Krow, El Paso County Department of Human Services' executive director.

Gov. John Hickenlooper proposed adding about $14.1 million to the program, of which about $1.2 million could flow to El Paso County, Krow said.

The Joint Budget Committee's staff proposed a $7.3 million funding bump, meaning an additional $630,000 for El Paso County, she said.

Neither proposal would fully fund the county's needs. Still, Krow said they could help with the wait times.

"They're an important step in the right direction," she said.

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