Preschools with a little extra room may be able to get emergency waivers to accept early childhood program students from Denver Public Schools in the event of a strike, the Colorado Department of Human Services said.
Denver school district administrators announced Wednesday they would be closing programs serving 3- and 4-year-olds if Denver teachers go on strike Monday because more stringent state rules have made it hard to hire enough substitutes. That could affect about 5,000 children and their parents.
Parents searching for licensed child care options during a teacher strike can call Colorado Shines Child Care Referral at Mile High United Way at 1-877-338-2273 or text “child care referral” to 898-211.
The Colorado Department of Human Services announced Saturday that it will consider waiver requests from licensed child care providers who have enough space and staff to safely accommodate additional children in their facilities. The waivers, which require approval from the department, would allow the providers to temporarily have a higher ratio of children to adults than is typically permitted.
“The Division of Early Care and Learning’s top priority is the health and safety of children,” officials said in an email. “The impending teacher strike may place a hardship on parents and present a safety risk to children, if parents are unable to stay at home to care for their children or find a new, trusted caregiver during the strike.”
More often, such emergency waivers are granted during natural disasters or when an individual child care center has to close for fire or mold, displacing those students.
The city of Denver is also offering extended services and hours at rec centers and libraries to serve children whose parents choose not to send them to school in a strike. Denver Public Schools has said it will keep school open for older children.