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Parents are a core part of the workforce and child care is essential economic infrastructure. To assist families and child care facilities, The Partnership for Children and Families (PCF), Mesa County’s early childhood council, launched BridgeCare last week. BridgeCare is a user-friendly, web-based tool that connects local families with available child care openings. It also allows providers to market their programs, highlight their services and staff, and manage enrollment.

BridgeCare gives families options to search for openings based on important variables, such as proximity to work and weekend availability. Eleven counties and their related early childhood councils will participate in BridgeCare, including Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Delta, Ouray, San Miguel, San Juan, Dolores, Montezuma, and La Plata.

Mesa County is considered a child care desert, an area where there is only one licensed child care slot for every three children ages 0-5 years old. Over the last 4 years, child care availability has grown by 20%, but the pandemic resulted in an unprecedented 8% loss in capacity and providers in Mesa County. PCF and partners will use real-time data from BridgeCare to understand how many additional childcare slots are still needed.

Stephanie Bivins, PCF Director explained, “Eighty-five percent of all brain development happens by the age of three. Early care and school readiness impact the trajectory of our future generations. BridgeCare will transform how our child care providers and families find each other. This tool will help us improve the entire child care landscape in Mesa County. We want every family to have what they need.”

The Partnership for Children and Families (PCF) is charged by the state to respond to local needs and conditions to increase the accessibility of early childhood services. Mesa County Public Health is the fiscal sponsor. The organizations are unified in their efforts to strengthen and streamline early childhood education (ECE) services.

Families can search for child care openings at child care.mesa county pcf.org.

Providers can set up a profile and manage their program at providers.mesacountypcf.org.