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Connecting Colorado Families To Child Care

(CBS4)- Brooke and Worth Byrd's family is about to grow by two little feet.

"It's very exciting," Brooke said. "We're first-time parents and have about six weeks to go."

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Yet their journey to parenthood has come with some big challenges.

"For one, it's being pregnant and getting prepared for everything," Brooke told CBS4's Kelly Werthmann. "Then the process of looking for child care."

Just like countless Colorado families, the Byrds have struggled to find care for their son, who is on the way.

"We found out we were waitlisted for waitlists," Brooke explained. "We created a spreadsheet and we started just from our home location and then further from that... Then you take off work to go tour those facilities while you're trying to build PTO to be home with your baby. So, it's one thing after the other."

Availability is one hurdle, and affordability is another.

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"It's kind of like a second mortgage," Worth said.

That's a big reason why Dawn Odean, Executive Director of Early Learning for Jefferson County Public Schools, helped launch JeffCo Families Colorado. It's basically an online "one-stop shop" to help parents find child care and connect them to community resources.

"Essentially families can go in and say, 'This is where I work, this is where I live. What's available along that route? This is the type of care I'm looking for, these are the hours I'm looking for, and these are the rates I'm willing to pay.' It allows them to sort of sift through what's available."

On top of that, Odean said the state's new Office of Early Childhood, along with universal Pre-K, will be a gamechanger for families.

"It's where resources will be housed in one place," Odean explained. "That's a really great place to start. It's an incredible effort to work together across partnerships with community and family resources."

Brooke said JeffCo Families was critical in finding her future son's child care.

SECTION: Making Ends Meet

"It offered a list of daycares and also got us in touch with a home daycare navigator who would call us if there were potential openings available," she said.

Using the resources available is part of the advice Brooke has for other parents, along with not giving up.

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"Just keep trucking away at those [child care] lists, make the phone calls, follow up, and be prepared to be a little frustrated," she said.

LINKS: Jeffco Families Colorado | Colorado Office Of Early Childhood | Better Beginnings Podcast 

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