Families grapple with PC Tots tuition increase
Parents were caught off guard last week when local childcare provider PC Tots announced that tuition rates are going up. Way up.
Summit County resident Madison Carte’s monthly tuition bill for her two kids at PC Tots is set to increase by around $1,000 in July to around $3,400. She said due to a lack of other childcare options in the area, she’s going to have to foot the higher bill.
“With the current daycare climate right now, you have to swallow it,” Carte said. “We have friends who just moved from Denver, who were on the waitlist at PC Tots for two years before they finally got a spot.”
Carte said the current cost of daycare isn’t just impacting her budget, but her family’s life plan.
“As it stands now, it makes it challenging for parents — like my family where we would like to have a third child — you really have to start reconsidering your family planning based on the cost of daycare.”
Wasatch County couple Jenè Shaw and Brad Drennan said their monthly tuition costs will nearly double. They have one kid at PC Tots now, and they’re on the waitlist for child number two, who’s arriving later this year.
They called the price bump a massive financial strain. Drennan said if they knew about it earlier, they might have reconsidered having a second kid.
PC Tots Executive Director Sue Banerjee said Monday the nonprofit organization didn’t come to the decision lightly. It’s facing a $620,000 funding gap this year as a result of federal pandemic-era stimulus money drying out. PC Tots annual budget is a little over $2 million.
PC Tots had a couple choices: lay off staff, close classrooms and quit serving students, or raise tuition. Banerjee said government assistance is needed, particularly at the local level.
The nonprofit recently helped put together a municipal public funding proposal called “Park City Cares About Kids.”
“It’s asking for funding to stabilize the situation, not just to PC Tots, but to all licensed childcare providers in Park City, so that we can keep things going for these families that have child care,” Banerjee said.
She the goal for the tuition increase was to keep people’s monthly childcare bill to around 10% of their area median income.
PC Tots Program Director Melissa Mendez said while funding from President Biden’s infrastructure bill helped, it brings an added burden.
“The stabilization grant was really used for wages and benefits for staff, and it absolutely worked," Mendez said. "We went from having 12 teachers and 45 students to having 24 teachers and up to 100 students. So the stabilization grant really was a success. It did, however, permanently increase our bottom line.”
She said she expects most childcare providers in Utah to increase tuition in the coming year due to the loss of federal funding.
Mendez said the childcare crisis in Park City reflects a broader problem around the country.
“Our teachers literally cannot be paid any less than they are," she said. "And we’re in a broken system where our parents are at that point where they can’t pay anymore… it’s just broken. We do need government assistance. We do need them to step out and say early childhood education is vital.”
The funding proposal to Park City Municipal states an annual investment of a little more than $2 million could help provide daycare to 200 local children. The city council has discussed a public investment in childcare previously, but has yet to take action or debate the plan which stemmed from the Park City Community Foundation’s Early Childhood Alliance.