Crystal Redner closed the child care center she helms in southeastern Colorado in late March as the coronavirus pandemic worsened. Soon, she pinned her financial hopes on reopening as part of a state program to serve the children of essential workers.
On Tuesday, she got bad news. Although the state and her own board OK’d the plan, the board of the nursing home with which her center shares a building rejected it. Now, she’ll stay closed for the foreseeable future, with her 11 employees — already making so little they qualify for Medicaid — collecting unemployment.
Like Redner, child care providers across Colorado and the nation are facing a bleak financial future — one they fear could break the backs of their businesses and the child care sector itself if government leaders don’t take more aggressive steps to help.
Bill Jaeger, vice president of early childhood and policy initiatives at the Colorado Children’s Campaign, said he’s concerned the industry — where providers already operate on the thinnest of margins — could collapse.
“I’m very worried about the state budget picture,” he said. “There’s not, in a state like Colorado, a path to rely on the state general fund to stand this sector up.”