3 Takeaways from the 2024 Childcare Summit

March 12, 2024

On February 28, the Arvada Chamber of Commerce hosted the B.O.L.D. 2026 Childcare Summit, a half-day event that explored innovative strategies, best practices, and regional resources addressing the critical issue of workforce childcare challenges.

As part of the B.O.L.D. 2026 initiative, the Arvada Chamber has a goal to increase childcare capacity to enable caregivers to join the workforce and give children the quality early learning experience they need to thrive. This work requires a coordinated regional approach to increasing childcare capacity, building public awareness about childcare gaps, and providing employers with strategies to support employees. The Summit brought together over 30 regional partners, providers, and engaged business leaders to learn how to be part of the solution and drive positive change in our community.

The Arvada Chamber would like to thank event sponsors Kiddie Academy Arvada, Apex Park and Recreation District, Early Childhood Service Corps, and TRIAD Bright Futures. We also would like to thank the event presenters:

“We all depend on people who depend on childcare,” said Christine Walker, which drove home the criticality of this issue for our community.

Three Takeaways

1. Colorado is short nearly 200,000 childcare spots and only has 62% of the spots needed.

According to a 2023 Healthier Colorado survey, seven in ten (71 percent) of the respondents shared that it was somewhat or very difficult to find child care. Parents of infants and toddlers (0-2) found it to be much more difficult to find care when compared to parents of preschoolers (3-5).

In recent years, the supply of licensed childcare providers has dropped, raising the price of a high-demand service. In Colorado, more than 7,000 licensed infant childcare slots have been lost since 2011 – nearly 30% of the supply. Today, the state has the 8th highest cost of childcare in the United States.

A lack of childcare slot supply will ultimately decrease the workforce talent supply. Today, the number one reason parents are leaving the workforce (58%) is that they are unable to find childcare solutions that meet their needs (U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation). The economic impact of losing talented employees is huge: Jefferson County alone is experiencing an annual economic cost of nearly $200 million due to a lack of sufficient childcare for the workforce.

2. Colorado has a critical need for increased childcare options.

Child care takes many forms, including nannies, nanny shares, childcare centers, licensed family child care homes, and family, friend, and neighbor (FFN) providers. In the Healthier Colorado survey, nearly 1 in 5 families reported that they used a combination of care arrangements for their child. Thirty percent of respondents use some type of unlicensed or license-exempt care (family, friend, neighbor, babysitter, nanny, or nanny-share), while just over half (51 percent) rely solely on licensed settings.

The recommended strategy from Healthier Colorado is to explore expansion strategies for all types of childcare options. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. This strategy suggested expanding access to high-quality home visiting services and programs like Providers Advancing Student Outcomes (PASO) to provide early childhood training to unlicensed providers. The next step is partnering with birthing hospitals, birthing centers, ob/gyn offices, pediatricians and other child health providers, libraries, family resource centers, the Triad Early Childhood Council and other community-based organizations that can reach families.

3. The childcare sector and business sector have a mutual interest in partnership.

A major theme in the partner roundtable discussions with businesses was interest in strategies and resources to support increased access to childcare for the workforce. Below are resources recommended from the Arvada Chamber and partners at the Summit for businesses to engage in childcare solutions.

Business Resources:

  • Arvada Chamber’s Family Friendly Workplace Program Certification. This innovative new initiative addresses workforce challenges by assisting Arvada regional businesses in attracting top talent. The program involves three phases of certification, starting with an organizational survey on family-friendly policies and practices that results in a customized evaluation.
  • Bright Futures Roadmap and Business Engagement and Support. The Jeffco Bright Futures Roadmap was developed in 2019 by a diverse group of community stakeholders. The Roadmap aims to ensure the healthy development of all Jeffco children. It builds on existing county assets and addresses needs across early learning, family support and education, and health and well-being.
  • EPIC Design Lab and Childcare Support for Businesses. The Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) has partnered with EPIC to bring back the Employer-Based Child Care Design Lab, a unique opportunity for employers to gain the knowledge necessary to plan an on-site or near-site child care facility through direct support and community partnerships while developing a competitive grant application for up to $800,000 in state funding for their projects.
  • Triad Early Childhood Council Childcare Resources and Childcare Workforce Development. The Triad Early Childhood Council has partnered with many community agencies as well as individuals in order to improve quality, access, and equity outcomes for young children.

The Arvada Chamber is looking forward to continuing to offer opportunities, programs, and resources through the B.O.L.D. 2026 Childcare Initiative to business leaders, community leaders, and childcare providers while we tackle this complex problem with innovative solutions. If you are interested in being involved in this endeavor, we encourage you to sign up as a B.O.L.D. 2026 Childcare Champion, contributing your participation and support to this crucial initiative!

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