Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) was selected as one of six sites throughout the state to receive grant funding as part of the Transforming the Early Childhood Workforce in Colorado Initiative. The funds will be used to support the Child Care 8,000 Initiative, which aims to increase licensed child care slots from 4,200 to 8,000 by 2022.
The funding will jump-start the development of a child care business cooperative aimed at reducing administrative cost in order to maximize investment in early childhood professionals.
“Lead teachers in Mesa County make an average of $12 per hour. We believe offering higher wages is crucial in creating a strong early childhood workforce, but in Mesa County we can’t pass that burden on to parents and providers can’t afford to pay more. We’ve come up with this innovative solution to impact the drastic shortage of early childhood professionals in Mesa County,” MCPH Executive Director Jeff Kuhr said.
Currently, Mesa County licensed child care facilities are available to just 21 percent of children zero to five years of age. Some of the Child Care 8,000 goals include:
- Increase wages for child care employees by offsetting operating costs through business co-ops with organizations such as the Grand Junction Economic Partnership and the Executives Partnering to Invest in Children.
- Create an appealing career path in collaboration with local high schools, credentialing programs and local colleges.
“Investing in child care will address so many of the health issues we face in Mesa County. It’s not your typical initiative – we’re working together with countless agencies toward a solution that we believe meets the needs of this community,” Kuhr said.