By Shaun Boyd
DENVER (CBS4)– State lawmakers are hoping to help parents frustrated by the lack of safe and affordable childcare.
A bill that’s already passed the state Senate would allow unlicensed providers, like stay-at-home moms, to care for more children.
Right now, an in-home provider can’t watch more than two unrelated children without a license. That makes things like nanny-sharing illegal.
“It’s a constant source of conversation between me and my girlfriends – ‘Who are you using for daycare? Do they have room for one more?’” says mom Laurel Labonde, who testified in favor of the bill.
When she went back to work after her son Freddy was born, her mother-in-law agreed to watch him three days a week, but finding someone to take him the other two days has been a herculean task.
“Licensed home childcare providers are running a business so they want kids five days a week,” she says. When she tried to nanny-share with a friend, “They said I can’t watch them because they’re unrelated and that’s illegal.”
Rep. Jessie Danielson, a Democrat from Wheat Ridge, hopes to change that.
“A number of these folks – we estimate it could be thousands across the state – are actually operating illegally,” said Danielson.
But, she says many families have no choice but to use providers who are operating outside of the law.
According to the Colorado Children’s Campaign, 246,000 kids under the age of six need care, but there are only enough licensed slots for about 150,000 of them. That leaves about 96,000 kids without licensed childcare.
Danielson is carrying a bill that allows a provider to care for up to four unrelated kids without a license, and take advantage of training offered by the state.
“On home safety, sleep safety, school readiness like learning their ABC’s and their colors so they’re a little bit more prepared when they do go to school.”
Laurel Labonde says it would help moms, kids and providers, “This sort of thing is already happening and the more resources we can give to those people, the better.”
The bill requires the legislature to re-visit the law in three years to see if providers are getting training as a result of being allowed to take on more kids. It has wide bi-partisan support.