Local child care provider submits lone proposal for Yellow Brick space | News

After a nationwide search was expanded as soon as it found no local recipients, the city of Aspen and its child care program negotiated with a local provider representing the lone proposal for available space in the Yellow Brick Building.

Diane Foster, assistant city manager for Aspen, said the Kids First Advisory Board gave its approval in June to the lone applicant who proposed working out of recently vacated space in the Yellow Brick. The supplier – who was not willing to name Foster or Kids First director Shirley Ritter – entered into contract negotiations with the board.

“It’s a qualified proposal and we’re talking to that person,” Ritter said. “I have my thumb stuck and I am hopeful that we will work it out.”

A decision is expected by the end of July, with the hope of a partial opening in September. The vacancy was created by a board decision requiring Yellow Brick tenants to work five days a week in an effort, they said, to tackle the childcare capacity crisis in the valley. Foster said the new requirements will create 36 new childcare slots a day.

At the time of the decision, the new policy would be implemented in leases in the fall of 2023. It also required the two vendors in the building, Aspen Playgroup and Aspen Mountain Tots, to add an extra day to their four-day-per-week programs.

But Kathryn “Kadi” Kuhlenberg, Playgroup owner, found the change would make her business unworkable and closed the 30-year-old family business in June. She also disputed the idea that an additional day would address Aspen’s capacity issue, saying those gaps would be filled by students already enrolled, adding another day. Meanwhile, Mountain Tots has decided to reduce its offerings by a full classroom in September and will reduce enrollments over the next few years, with the goal of closing after four years.

Following Kuhlenberg’s announcement of Playgroup’s closure, the city has solicited requests for local vendors. No one came. In April, the requests were opened on a national scale by BidNet, a website for proposal applications. Only one came. However, the sole respondent is not a corporate chain from outside the state, as some feared when no local suppliers initially acted.

Foster could not comment on why the proposal was not submitted during the initial local request.

“The people at Kids First spoke to some current operators in the valley about the interest in the space at the Yellow Brick. “I spoke to one of the people who was planning to bid and she was expanding in the valley and she really could not get anything together before November,” said Foster. “The other one just did not bid.”

The new provider, Foster said, will likely provide baby care services in one of the classrooms. It is also investigating the replacement of a previously removed wall to convert the three-class room space into four.

A selection committee that included the Kids First board has already approved the supplier, and now “the entity and the city are going through the process of the contract,” Foster said. This process is expected to be completed by the end of July, or in late August at the latest.

“We are in good shape,” said Foster. “I believe the plan is to open it – and it will not be at full capacity – in September.”

Kids First Deadline

The deadline to apply for financial assistance for childcare through Kids First is August 1st. The financial aid program works on a sliding scale to allocate funds to families to pay for childcare services based on income.

Ritter said childcare tuition rates in Aspen could cost $ 75-80 a day. Anyone with a child under the age of 5 who lives or works within the city’s urban growth line is eligible.

“It’s important for people to know that there is funding available,” Ritter said. “We have certain qualifications, but if they call us and there is something — maybe mom is not working yet because they do not have childcare or they can not pay for it – there are other sources we can refer people to. in addition to our financial aid, they may qualify.

“I just want to encourage people to get in touch with us.”

The child enrolling in care must be a U.S. citizen. To request more information about enrollment or to check availability, call Kids First at 970-920-5363 or send an email to KidsFirst@CityofAspen.com.


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