I got a call from a lady today, who is looking to move to Durango in the next two years and is already trying to find daycare and pre-schools in the area. She doesn’t even live here, and she is already searching. This may sound crazy, but actually makes a lot of sense when you understand the facts about daycare in Durango:
There are an estimated 1500 children under the age of five in La Plata County and only 271 daycare slots for kids under 3 years old. It makes u wonder….. how the hell are parents are working full time jobs in this situation?
LB is going to turn a year old tomorrow. Most people have a waiting list that are about a year to 2 years. Some people even have 3 YEAR WAITING LISTS. The kids will be in school before they can even get accepted! My current childcare provider has children on her waiting list who aren’t even born yet.
I just began my job at the school district a month ago. How did I find childcare, do you ask? LUCK. DUMB LUCK- and honestly, besides the whole “get them on the list while en-utero philosophy” there really isn’t any other choice.
My first lucky break was that the job I applied for happened to be well connected to the Head Start/Early Head Start offices. So I was emailed a list of EVERY childcare provider in La Plata County. I started crossing out the ones that didn’t take babies under 12 months and was left with about 18 home care and 21 centers. I started with the ones my friends recommended. Got on their 2 year waiting lists.
Since I am a single mother, and at that point, only working part time, I went to department of Human Services and filled out the Colorado Childcare Assistance Program application. If you qualify, you get a substantial discount on your daycare cost.
The average day care here costs about $30/day which is ok, I guess. I haven’t done the national research on that one. That expense turns out to be $150/week or $600/month, give or take a few days. That is something that I DEFINITELY cannot afford right now. So I filled out the application, which took about a month to complete in full. This also opens up the daycare centers that ONLY accept low-income families.
I really had no choice to wait and see if I qualified for this before getting childcare, since my first day was only two weeks after my interview. I had to find childcare fast. My babydaddy’s mom(who watched LB while I was working PT) was available, but only one day a week (She has a house cleaning business). My mother and father also work full time and so do all of my friends without children. My grandmother is cursed with a incessantly neurotic toy poodle who runs in circles and barks at leaves falling from trees, so she was a very disagreeable match, though available. I was starting to sweat with one week left.
So I did the last thing left to do: Go down the list, one by one and CALL EVERYONE. I got to # 10 on the home providers, and I found a spot. The catch? It was only available during the summer. I took it. $28/day- I WAS PSYCHED!
In the meantime, I was still looking for a place in the fall. IMPOSSIBLE. Teachers have blocked those spots off YEARS in advance. The only way I was going to find child care was to get approved for Child Care Assistance, and make my way into the Early Head Start program.
About 3 days ago. I got my denial letter. I make too much money to qualify. $1200 a month is apparently middle class in Durango, PLENTY of money to support a child, pay for rent and daycare, gas, utilities, phone…etc Ok, sorry, you’ve already heard my rant on cost of living here.
So I am still looking. Waiting, hoping, praying…whatever humans do to invoke good luck on themselves. Will it pay off? Who knows.