The Estes Park EDC is pleased to announce that its Board approved the formation of the Childcare Services committee created to directly address the critical need for affordable and accessible childcare in the Estes Valley at their January 19th board meeting. “I am excited to be working with such a great team on a task that I feel is critical to the economic stability and growth of the Estes Valley,” said Michael Moon, the committee’s chair.
The Committee’s first agenda item is to facilitate creation of a comprehensive needs assessment of child care requirements and the impact of under-served preschool services upon our economy and schools. Following this, a detailed business plan will be developed to identify methods to meet the identified needs. It is expected that the Committee will identify project partners and facilitate identifying and funding an experienced consultant to complete these planning documents.
The Estes Valley Economic Development Strategy, completed in November 2015, identified workforce housing and childcare as priorities for local economic vitality. In February of 2016, Rees Consulting completed a housing needs assessment on behalf of the Estes Park Housing Authority. That document is encouraging both employers and property owners to consider workforce housing projects. The Needs Assessment also included 11 major recommendations for how to improve workforce housing in Estes Park, with some steps already being undertaken or completed. A similar assessment and strategic planning process for childcare services can facilitate forward progress on childcare.
Once the needs assessment and business plan are completed, the committee plans on identifying a project partner, and then supporting the development of the facility and program identified in the business plan. The final outcome could be an expanded program from an existing nonprofit or childcare provider, or creating a new provider to expand childcare services in the Estes Valley. “Quality child care is at the root of our young workforce families’ difficulties living here, said committee vice-chair Charley Dickey. “I am excited about creating a solution that will allow the younger generations to live, work and play here in Estes Park.”
Expanded childcare can make a positive difference. “High quality, early childhood education has the greatest payout of any investment we can make. If employees can’t find quality care for their children, they won’t work for you,” said Kristen Berg, a child education and care specialist who works at EVICS. They won’t move to our community, or they’ll be forced to move away. They might have to consider quitting their job to stay home with their children because they have no other option,” said Berg. “As a community, we must do better for our future. I'm excited to stop simply talking about this problem and do something about it!”
The committee is chaired by Michael Moon, and Charley Dickey serves as vice-chair. The team is completed by Jose Almeida, Kristen Berg, John Bryant, Travis Machalek, and Dr. Tim McLemore. “Estes Park EDC is pleased that such a talented and diverse group of individuals is willing to undertake this project on behalf of our community,” said Jon Nicholas, President/CEO of Estes Park EDC.