Emma Morrison, Caroline Roddey, Jack Sheehy, Olivia Swanson
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Chris Marsicano
Families across the United States consistently struggle to access affordable and quality child care. Specifically in Denver, Colorado, the lack of child care disproportionately impacts low-income groups and families of color, many of whom live in child care “deserts.” This project examines policy alternatives for improving access to child care in Denver. In our analysis, we have employed four criteria; the recommended policy intervention must limit costs, be easy to implement, target families in need, and receive stakeholder support. Our client for this white paper is the Governor of Colorado, Jared Polis. While Polis, of course, has statewide responsibilities, our paper focuses specifically on Denver, where the government has not matched the dramatic population increase with sufficient access to affordable child care. A study found that half of Coloradans live in a child care desert, and over half of those Coloradans live in the Denver metropolitan area. We examined the ability of universal child care, expanded tax credits for families, and tax breaks for business to alleviate these problems and satisfy our criteria for analysis. Greater access to child care will provide an effective way to decrease economic disparity, ultimately helping struggling families and ensuring increased opportunities for children. We recommend that Governor Polis introduce legislation to expand Colorado’s child care tax credit program to provide more assistance to more families in need. While a universal child care program would alleviate the financial burden of early childhood education costs for low-income families, expanding the tax credit program can accomplish this goal nearly as successfully, cost substantially less, and garner support from more stakeholders. Further, because a version of this initiative already exists, this alternative will be easy to implement.