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Child Care Centers: Bigger Price Tag, More Bells and Whistles

Child care centers are regulated by the State of Colorado through the Office of Early Childhood in the Department of Human Services. This type of license is required when less than 24-hour care is located in a building regularly used for child care, provides for 5 or more children aged 6 weeks to 18 years and includes special programs such as preschools and kindergarten.

Strict licensing requirements accompany this classification, defined in the Colorado Revised Statute (C.R.S. 26-2-102(5). These pertain to all areas of daycares, including criminal background checks for adults over 18, health and safety regulations, teacher/child ratios, sunscreen, play and sleep space minimum square footage. The full 444-page General Rules for Child Care Facilities can be found here.

Child Care Center Costs

These centers are typically more expensive than in home daycare.

Infant care (6 weeks to walking) ranges from about $260-$340 per week per child. As the child grows, the rates often decrease about $10-$15 per week for Tod 1 (walking to 2 years old) and Tod 2 (2 to 3 years old) (Age breakdowns may vary slightly). When children are potty trained and move to the 3-year-old room, rates usually decrease again. Many daycare facilities also give military, employee or sibling discounts (often about 10%).

In Colorado Springs, it seems most Daycare Centers are able to accept CCCAP payments. And many are able to accept payment via direct deposit, which is a convenience factor I appreciate.

My husband and I have three young children and another on the way.

For reference, our three year old and two year old currently attend a local daycare center. We pay $244 and $259 per child per week, respectively. But we get a multi-child discount of 10 percent, bringing our weekly bill to $450. Unfortunately, like many child care centers, this facility does not have an infant room. So, we will need to find alternative arrangements for our upcoming bundle of joy. And, our oldest is in after-school care, so the pick-up/drop off shenanigans are something to consider. 

How early do you have to leave work to make it to 2-3 daycare facilities before 6:00 pm?

Helpful Resources  

You can find licensed daycare centers using the Colorado Department of Human Services website. Use the map application to filter results by the age and type of program you are looking for. Review facilities in your area for capacity, infant rooms, compliance, complaints, license number, etc.

Many of the child care centers in Colorado Springs also have individual websites. Those can familiarize you with their facilities and programs. But you’ll almost always have to call for specific rates.

The Colorado Information Marketplace is also a great way to search the State’s child care data base.  You can create “visualizations” and add filters to the data to sort it by whatever means you prefer such as child care centers in your zip code.  This site also has lots of great infographics for statewide data.  

Pros and Cons 

One of the advantages of child care centers is that most are open from around 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. However, state regulations restrict leaving children regularly for more than 10 hours in a given day. For parents with non standard hours, a wide range for pick up and drop off may be essential. A warning, though: Many child care centers charge you for being late sometimes $15 -$25/per kid per 5-15 minute window you are late.  More than 30 minutes late may result in your children being turned over to Child Protective Services!

Another advantage, especially for older children, is that child care centers are often have more structured and robust pre-school programs. They follow a set curriculum where your child will get experience in a classroom setting. This can be a great advantage if your schedule makes it unrealistic for you to transport your child to and from daycare to a pre-school elsewhere. Those programs typically operate on abbreviated schedules like 9:00-12:00 MWF. By offering a program on site, you can feel confident your child is getting the preparation they need without you having to drive around like a crazy person.

Extracurricular Activities

Similarly, some child care centers, like the one my kids attend, offer extra curricular classes like dance or martial arts where they bring the instructor into the center to conduct class during the day.

I was more than willing to pay extra for this class for the luxury of being able to skip the wait-list for a Saturday morning dance class we could otherwise attend and I not having to drive there. I wish there were more opportunities like that. 

Also I find that many child care centers have larger play areas with more standard play equipment than what can usually be found at in home daycares, considering how much time my children spend playing outside at this age, I think it is important to have lots of room to run around and safe facilities on which to play.

Food and Allergies

Finally, most child care centers provide food for the children as part of the cost. But again, you are on the hook for diapers, wipes, and specialized formula (though some will provide a generic formula and most work with moms that want to provide frozen breastmilk). One difference you may find between a child care center and an in home daycare is that the food programs at most centers are pretty stringent with balanced meals with scheduled calendars for every month.  They also seem to be very strict with food allergy concerns.

Do you have experience with any specific child care centers in Colorado Springs?  Leave us a review in the comments.

 

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