Colorado could lose more than half of its child care supply due to COVID-19

Written by: Children's Campaign
Date Posted: May 1, 2020

Child care is essential infrastructure, yet providers nation-wide continue to be at risk of permanent closure due to the impacts of COVID-19. New analysis from the Center for American Progress combines data from the March 12-25 NAEYC survey of 11,500 child care providers and information about child care deserts nationwide to further model the potential loss to the sector. The analysis shows that Colorado is at risk of losing 55 percent of its child care supply without significant public investment to stabilize the early care and education industry, allowing it to recover from the pandemic. Nearly 4.5 million child care slots could be lost nationwide.

In Colorado, before the pandemic, 51 percent of people lived in a child care desert, defined as an area with more than 50 children under the age of 5 that has either no child care providers or more than three times the number of children as licensed child care slots. Child care deserts disproportionately impact Colorado’s Hispanic/Latinx families (56 percent live in a child care desert), rural families (53 percent) and low-income families (55 percent) and are associated with fewer mothers in the workforce nationwide. If 55 percent of the state’s child care supply is lost, the estimated number of children per single licensed care slot in Colorado would rise to 6.13 (up from 2.76 pre-pandemic).

In the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Congress appropriated $3.5 billion to states through Child Care Development Block Grants (CCDBG), but $3.5 billion is not nearly enough to keep programs afloat during the pandemic or allow them to recover from this crisis. Much of Colorado’s portion of the March 27 CARES Act CCDBG investment is funding our pandemic emergency response. More is needed to ensure that providers can recover stronger after the pandemic, allowing Colorado’s working parents to go back to work and our economy to recover. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Tina Smith, child care providers and advocates are urgently asking that an additional $50 billion investment in the sector be included in the next federal coronavirus stimulus package.

All are welcome to join the Colorado Children’s Campaign’s calls with stakeholders about the impacts of COVID-19 on the early care and education sector in Colorado by signing up at this link. Please consider sharing this information with your networks and sharing your voice in support of the early care and education industry at the state and federal level.

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The Colorado Children’s Campaign is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization committed since 1985 to realizing every chance for every child in Colorado. We advocate for the development and implementation of data-driven public policies that improve child wellbeing in health, education and early childhood. We do this by providing Coloradans with trusted data and research on child wellbeing and organizing an extensive state-wide network of dedicated child advocates. For more information, please visit