It’s no secret that the pandemic has brought the importance of quality, affordable child care for the workforce to the forefront of the conversation. In politics, business, education, and the lives of millions of families this is a topic of hardship that has been building pressure for a long time in Colorado and across the nation. In a recent article in the Colorado Sun, The Colorado Children’s Campaign estimated that about 64% of Colorado families had to alter their child care plans and lives due to the pandemic (Julig, 2021).
Employers have been hit hard by this deficit, as they witness their employees from entry to executive level leave the workforce in droves. Employers and entities across the state are taking action to help relieve the pressure on working families, through the development of on or near-site child care programs and other creative family benefits that aim to offer both access, flexibility, and affordability for their employees. If implemented, it could change the way we approach early care in some of our most prominent communities for years to come.
To help guide this incredible effort to success, EPIC has been contracted to create the first-ever Employer-Based Child Care Design Lab in partnership with the Office of Early Childhood at the Colorado Department of Human Services. The Design Lab launched in October 2021 with 10 selected participants from an impressive and diverse group of more than 25 applicants. This is 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.