By Marsha Barancik, Senior Vice President of Strategic Impact
On Friday, February 17, 2023, the Arvada Chamber of Commerce hosted the State of Childcare to address the economic impacts of the state’s childcare shortage on employers, families and businesses. Nicole Riehl, president and CEO of Executives Partnering to Invest in Children (EPIC), led a panel talk on the government and business policies, investment and community connectivity needed to meet Arvada’s demand for at least 2,000 more childcare slots in homes, faith centers, workplaces, and public spaces.
Panelists at the forum included:
- Kate Kalstein, Kate Kalstein Consulting, Universal Pre-K Expert
- Pat Bolton, Triad Early Childhood Council
- Carrie Kennedy, Family Child Care Home Provider in Arvada
- Lindsay Reinert, Community Outreach and Partnership Manager, Lutheran Medical Center | Intermountain Healthcare
- Cathy D’Addario, Director, Lionheart Children’s Academy at Revive Church
The event was held at The Bridge at Revive Church, a mixed-use redevelopment at 8270 W 80th Ave. and home to Lionheart Children’s Academy, a Christian K-12 educator and care program for infants and preschoolers.
“Child care is critical infrastructure,” Riehl said, in a state with a growing population, a shortage of care slots, particularly for infants, and where workers often pass on jobs lacking family-friendly benefits.
“People can’t find child care or can’t afford it,” she said. EPIC advocates for a mixed-delivery system that gives parents location and funding flexibility – for example, stacking universal pre-school credits with a subsidy.
Panelists detailed budget challenges facing child services and facilities and the need to make child caring an attractive career with competitive compensation. Colorado’s childcare need is above the national average: 38% of Colorado’s children need care.
In Colorado, the childcare shortage costs the economy $2.2 billion annually, and poses a $680 million cost for employers, reports EPIC. In Jefferson County (8.9% State GDP), the lack of sufficient childcare for the workforce is a $196 million economic cost and a $61 million burden for employers (due to loss of productivity, etc). In Arvada (14.8% Jeffco GDP), childcare represents a $29 million economic cost and a $9 million burden for employers.
According to EPIC, 45,000 Colorado parents are making a career sacrifice because of child care issues. The cost of childcare is often the main reason women leave the workplace – especially for those with multiple young children.
The panel also discussed the challenge of childcare businesses struggling with staffing and very low-profit margins. Currently, 80% of childcare centers are experiencing staffing shortages; as a result, nearly half (47%) of programs experiencing staffing shortages are serving fewer children now.
What can employers and community leaders do?
Riehl detailed a number of ways the community can invest in childcare solutions today. For employers, she highlighted the need to expand family-friendly benefits, including sourcing childcare options and offering paid family leave and childcare stipends. Larger employers can explore on-site or near-site childcare options, including co-op models.
Community members can all advocate for early childhood investments and solutions, including putting assets such as real estate to good use. Broader community efforts like childcare infrastructure development also require public advocacy and community commitment.
As part of the B.O.L.D. 2026 initiative, the Arvada Chamber is working to catalyze a coordinated regional approach to increasing our childcare capacity. Learn more about those efforts here. The Chamber’s work through initiatives like B.O.L.D. 2026 requires a team of business, non-profit and community leaders to play an active role in solving the challenges that are stifling economic strength and opportunity for businesses and families. If you are passionate about solving childcare in Jefferson County, please sign up to be an Arvada Chamber Business Champion here.
Upcoming Community Impact Forums:
- March 17: State of the Economy
- April 21: Annual State of the City Address
- May 19: Legislative Recap
- June 16: State of Education
- July 21: State of Transportation
- August 18: State of Housing
- September 15: City Council Election Forum
- October 20: Ballots and Breakfast
- November 17: Annual Mayors Roundtable