Kids First

A Message from City of Aspen - Kids First on COVID-19 Recovery

We know that affordable, quality childcare is essential for a healthy community and economic vitality. The fact that childcare has reopened after the intensity of the first few months of Corona virus is significant.  It is an imperative service for the regeneration of Aspen’s economy.  Employers rely on childcare so their employees can work.  Parents rely on childcare so they can work.  Childcare in the community helps businesses provide reliability and consistency for their customers as well as contributes to operational strength and offers flexibility to working parents.  The City of Aspen has provided COVID-19 recovery support through a strategic program of initiatives to invigorate the economy.   You can read Council’s recovery objectives at

Some of the financial support Council has offered the community that facilitates families’ ability to get back to work is the dedication of emergency financial relief to childcare programs so they can open sooner with health and safety precautions in place.  To help your employees return to work, please know that the following programs are open and may have space available:  Aspen Mountain Tots, Aspen Sprouts, Early Learning Center, Growing Years, Little Red Schoolhouse, Wildwood, Woody Creek Kids, Playgroup, and NJS Hobby Farm. Also family childcare homes open: Rhoda Campbell and Hollyhock Cottage.

Please see the resources and headings below for more information.

You can reach us at or 970-920-5363.  We can talk to you about quality childcare that meets your needs and tuition assistance for qualifying families.

COVID 19 emergency childcare financial aid to families!

This is in addition to our regular financial aid program and is intended to help you return to work and secure a space in your childcare program at that time. Kids First goal is the recovery of our childcare programs so that families with young children are able to return to work. More information and the application are here.

During this period of social distancing, we want to let you know that Kids First staff is working from remote locations, but fully accessible. We will respond to you as quickly as we can, and we will find answers to your questions if we do not know!


Phones: 970-920-5363 - we are checking messages throughout the day and will return your call.

Shirley Ritter, Kids First Director: 970-920-5370

child laughingKids First is an early childhood resource center that supports quality, affordable childcare choices in Aspen, Pitkin County, CO. We can help you choose childcare, see if you qualify for help to pay for childcare, and provide information about community resources for young children, their families and the early childhood education programs that care for them.

We can help you navigate the childcare system!

We have a new inter-active map to help you locate childcare kids-first-childcare-map Opens in new windowprograms!  

Kids First does not recommend one program over another, it is up to you as a family to choose the best program for your child! We can help you navigate the system; contact us if you have questions. You can also click at the bottom of this page to search the Colorado Shines data base.

If you don’t find the information you are looking for here, please contact us. We also have a list of licensed childcare programs in our resource directory.

Childcare Financial Aid

The next deadline for Kids First Childcare Financial Aid is August 1; you can fill out the application on-line! Because of childcare programs having been closed, and income tax deadline delayed - this is the annual re-application for everyone.
You can also try out the calculator before you fill out the application to see if you qualify.

Kids Thrive

Kids Thrive is a page with services and information that helps strengthen families, prevent child abuse and neglect, and promote positive interactions.

Early Childhood Newsletter

Kids First publishes a newsletter for people working in early childhood programs, and community members who are interested in early childhood education - in Pitkin, Eagle, Garfield, and Lake Counties.
If you would like to receive our newsletter, or if you already do, and you have suggestions - you can let us know here!

What makes a child ready for school?

Turns out there are a lot of answers to that question. One thing that is widely agreed is that the secret ingredient is that a child have strong social and emotional skills. It's also clear that this development starts at birth, with loving family and supportive caregivers providing a sense of safety and a buffer against stressful times. We'll be giving you some resources to help you think about this for your child, no matter what age they are right now or when you expect them to begin Kindergarten. Start here, the Zero to Three website that gives more details about the roots of school readiness!

Find Child Care Resources
Stop Fighting It Hurts Website