Willene Squire usually shops for cleaning supplies at Lowe’s Market on Main Street or at one of the two dollar stores in Westcliffe, the southern Colorado town where she lives and operates an in-home child care business.
But when the pandemic hit, so did panic buying. Suddenly, local shelves were cleared of the supplies she needed to keep her home clean and sanitized for the babies and toddlers she cares for five days a week.
“I tell you it was unreal,” Squire said. “There were times we couldn’t get tissues, paper towels, produce, toilet paper, bleach.”
With strict cleaning protocols in place for Colorado child care providers who stayed open or reopened during the pandemic, shortages of routine supplies have taken on outsize significance. Without bleach and hand soap, they could be forced to close their doors.
As word of the shortages, particularly in rural areas, spread in April, a group of state officials, philanthropists, and early childhood leaders decided to act. They pooled state funds and private money in the newly created Keep the Lights On Fund and placed a $60,000 bulk order through a Boulder restaurant supplier. Those supplies — along with a large donation of face masks — came to a local warehouse, and starting last week, a logistics company began shipping it all out to the state’s 34 early childhood council.
Ann Schimke, Chalkbeat, Photo: Claudia Strait
Finding Child Care in Colorado
So, what child care options are available when I go back to work?
We all want our kids to shine and moms with young kids have been given the ultimate resource: Colorado Shines, a program from the State of Colorado which rates and monitors the quality of child care programs. This includes ensuring environments are safe for children and that programs adhere to all current health and safety regulations. The great thing about the Colorado Shines is all of the information you need is in one place, allowing you to dig into the details of a child care program’s quality and history to ensure you choose the best program for your child. The search tool for parents and primary caregivers of children age 0-5 is also geared to Spanish-dominant and bilingual families. It’s all about making informed choices!