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CCCI is a project to ensure accessible childcare for families of Chaffee County. It is currently being set up as an independent non-profit and is expected to receive it’s own 501(c)3 status in April 2019.

The lack of child care in Chaffee County has been a long standing challenge for residents.  There are a number of established childcare and in-home childcare providers in Chaffee County, but they are minimally meeting the needs of families.  Most of these providers have “waitlists” that exceed two years.  According to the Colorado State Demographer, Chaffee has 300 children under the age of one. However, the county only has 10 licensed child care slots to serve these infants. Therefore, even though there are some childcare providers, it is clearly not meeting the need in our community.  In November 2018, Mountain Kids announced they would be closing, which is detrimental to the community.  During this time, Alpine Achievers Initiative (AAI), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire, connect and nurture youth, families and communities in rural Colorado, decided that we have the resources, capacity and knowledge to try and support opening up a new child care center.


Before opening the Center, we are hoping to make renovations. Take a look at the budget below to learn more about the project. Please contact Megan Strauss at if you would like to provide cash or in-kind donations to support with these costs.




·        Volunteers to help with labor when setting the Center up (building fence, painting, decorating, etc.)

·        Volunteers to help run the Center

·        Engineer to approve renovation updates

·        Bookeeper to help develop Center finances

·        Teachers for Center




·Framing material



·Electrical Gutters


·Laminate flooring

·Window Blinds

·Playground Equipment

·Playground Fencing



·Educational Toys

·General Center Supplies


AAI has teamed up with the Chaffee County Early Childhood Council (CCECC) and a group of motivated community members to develop a solution to the child care crisis our community is facing.

KEy center Staff

Chelsey Helmer- Center Director & Infant Teacher

Chelsey has worked for several childcare facilities in Chaffee County in the past 10 years. Resident of Salida for 11 years and married with three young boys under the age of 6. Over the past six years, Chelsey has worked at “Mountain Kid’s Childcare” in Salida, CO and became Director qualified in 2014. In 2015, Chelsey was hired by the “Two’s Early Learning” program to teach preschool children aged 3 for the summer. In 2018 Chelsey was appointed Director of the Mountain Kids Childcare Center. She has also been a part of the Early Childhood Council since 2014 as a Parent/Child care Provider.

Kate Gladu McClelland - Early Childhood Education Teacher

Kate McClelland has lived in Salida for the past 11 years. Kate has been providing a private nanny for the past seven years. Kate is invested in this initiative after seeing how the lack of childcare facilities has impacted local families. Kate brings knowledge and experience as a mother and caretaker, a passion for sharing the love of learning, exploring art, music and nature with children and supporting families. Kate will be graduating from Pueblo Community College in spring 2019 with an Early Childhood Education Teaching Certificate.


Megan Strauss - Board President

Megan Strauss is the Executive Director and founder of local nonprofit that initiated the Chaffee County Childcare Center. Megan received her Master’s in Social Work with a concentration in community non-profit leadership and development and has been working in the nonprofit world since 2006. Megan has over a decade experience running nonprofits and excited to support the development of this much needed community service. Megan is invested and committed to ensuring that Chaffee County Childcare remains a sustainable, quality and intentional childcare program for Chaffee County infants and toddlers.

Bailey Williamson - Board Vice President

Bailey Williamson is a local home daycare provider in Salida and has been working in early childhood care for 9 years. Bailey maintains relationships with a growing network of local families and is acutely aware of the need for accessible childcare options for Chaffee County families. Bailey is passionate about early childhood development and education, and is looking forward to lending her experience along with input from the community to developing a quality program.

Cailey McDermott - Secretary

Cailey McDermott has lived in Salida for 8 years and moved to Chaffee County from Vermont. Cailey is a small business owner of Phreckles Photography and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion about operating a business to the Board of Directors. Cailey is passionate about education and is married to a local educator. Cailey is a local comedian and is well known throughout Chaffee County. Cailey’s community relationships will are a huge asset to the Chaffee County Childcare Center.

Amy Lovato, MEd - Board Treasurer

Amy is a state licensed teacher with endorsements in Spanish and Early Childhood Education. She has been teaching in the Arkansas Valley since 2010 and has international teaching experience in Spain. She began teaching in Spain in 2007, earned a Master's Degree in Education in 2013, and has taught all ages of students from preschool through college. Amy is a qualified director for a small child care center and is and advocate for integrating dual language immersion and early education.

Anna Hendricks – Board Member

Anna has lived in Salida since December 2016 and works with a local conservation non-profit, Southwest Conservation Corps. As a working mom, Anna has been fortunate enough to have a flexible schedule and wants to ensure that families that do not have that working environment have an educational, safe and intentional environment for their children. Anna has worked with non-profits for more than a decade and looks forward to contributing her knowledge and passion to the Chaffee County Childcare Center.