The State of Colorado is allowing child-care centers in the metro area to apply for waivers that would let them to admit more kids than their licenses typically allow in the event that members of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association strike against Denver Public Schools on Monday, February 11, as the union currently plans.
The details from the Colorado Office of Early Childhood's Division of Early Care and Learning are on view below.
Earlier this week, DPS announced that it wouldn't be able to provide early childhood education classes during a walkout, with superintendent Susana Cordova citing training, background checks and licensing requirements as the reason.
That's left the parents and guardians of nearly 5,000 students, most of whom qualify for free or reduced lunch, scrambling to find daycare arrangements should teachers hit the picket line — and the DCTA gives every indication that will happen.
A public bargaining session is slated for 5 p.m. tonight, February 8, at 1617 South Acoma Street. But the union has already released a full strike schedule for February 11, including a 6:30 a.m. press conference at South High School and an educator-and-community rally on the west steps of the State Capitol at 2 p.m. Meanwhile, the 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. event for that day is described like so: "Educators picket at schools across Denver."
The DCTA is also gearing up to operate community food banks "to assist families affected by the strike." Non-perishable donations will be accepted at these four locations:
Northwest — Denver Firefighters Local 858, 12 Lakeside Lane
Northeast — IBEW Local 111: 5965 East 39th Avenue
Southwest — National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 47: 5151 West 1st Avenue
Southeast - Unite Here Local 23: 5303 East Evans Avenue, # 302
Visit the DCTA strike page for additional information.
The website for the DPS early childhood education program points out that the district "offers a wide variety of high-quality programs that are conveniently located. Denver Public Schools offers full- and half-day programs for both three- and four-year-olds, as well as traditional and Montessori curricula."
DPS stresses that the adult-to-child ratio in these classes is set at "no more than 1:10" — meaning one adult for every ten children. That falls within official Colorado requirements, which establish a 1:10 ratio for kids who are between three and four, and a 1:12 ratio for those who are between four and five.
But given that so many children in Denver could be without options on Monday, non-DPS daycares are being told that the state "may temporarily waive requirements to allow providers to exceed licensed capacity, maintain a larger teacher-to-child ratio, as well as requirements concerning enrollment records for children."
This step is a clear indication of how large an impact a Monday walkout could have on folks of all ages in Denver.
Here's the communiqué, complete with links to waiver request forms for child-care providers and emergency enrollment forms for parents or guardians:
Colorado Office of Early Childhood
Division of Early Care and Learning
Important Notice Regarding Emergency Waivers
The Colorado Department of Human Services, Division of Early Care and Learning (DECL) is accepting emergency waiver requests for child care programs receiving children from Denver Public Schools preschools impacted by the impending teacher strike.
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DECL may temporarily waive requirements to allow providers to exceed licensed capacity, maintain a larger teacher to child ratio, as well as requirements concerning enrollment records for children.
Please submit requests using the Waiver Request Form and ask parents/guardians to complete the Emergency Enrollment Form upon enrolling their child. All waiver requests will be considered for licensed child care facilities impacted by the strike. Requests will be processed within 24 hours.
Child care programs that currently have space available for new children do not need to complete a waiver but may use the Emergency Enrollment Form when enrolling children impacted by the DPS teacher strike.
If you have any questions, please contact the Division of Early Care and Learning at 303-866-5948.