AURORA | In-home child care providers in Arapahoe County are now allowed to accept double the number of children they’ve typically been able to in past years.

This week the Arapahoe Board of County Commissioners approved changes in the residential building code that allows providers to accept 12 children under their care. That’s the number that the state allows. Previously, Arapahoe County only allowed providers to accept up to five children before fire suppression modifications had to be made to the home, according to the county. 

The change in code was made to better align with state standards, the board said.

“There’s such a great need in our community for quality daycare options,” said commissioner Jeff Baker in a statement. “This change in our building code will allow for more families to take advantage of affordable and safe child care and ensure the success of small businesses.”

The cost of childcare in Colorado has been on the rise in recent years. It costs, on average, $10,522 for home childcare for infants. Parents to multiple children in Colorado often pay even more. One study by Child Care Aware found that the annual cost of child care for an infant and 4-year-old in Colorado exceeds $20,000.

That growing cost was a driving factor in Gov. Jared Polis calling on the state legislature to fund full-day kindergarten. He asked for $227 million for full-day funding and another $25.7 million for implementation. 

Lawmakers approved $187 million for Polis’s plan.

Aurora Public School already offers free full-day kindergarten to its students. The Cherry Creek School District has seven schools that offer half-day or full-day kindergarten for free. Parents with children in other CCSD schools can pay an annual fee of $3,200 for full-day kindergarten.

Arapahoe County’s new rules also properly align the county with state rules regarding safety. Home daycare providers must have two exits in the home, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, a security system and a fenced yard.

“Staff collaborated with multiple agencies and providers to find safe solutions for the gap that existed between state and county regulations,” said Bryan Weimer, director of public works and development, in a statement. “The code amendment is a win for our agencies and residents to find more child care options from providers who offer the highest standards in safety.”

— KARA MASON, Staff Writer