Staffing shortages cause Pirate's Cove water park to close every Monday for remainder of summer

Gov. Polis, state approves grant program to address statewide staffing issues

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Pirates Cove Family Aquatic Center in Englewood announced June 23 that it will be closed every Monday for the rest of the 2022 season due to staffing shortages.

Swimming lessons at the Englewood Recreation Center have also been canceled because of staffing shortages, the City of Englewood announced on its website

Englewood is not alone. According to the Colorado Sun, there have also been reports of lifeguard shortages and pool opening delays in Longmont, Fort Collins, Brighton, Wheat Ridge, Boulder and Aurora.  

Amid reports of staffing shortages at swimming pools throughout Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis announced new efforts to help fix the problem, including a new grant program to help offer higher pay, a waiver allowing 16- and 17-year-old lifeguards to work more overtime and a grant that will offer $1,000 to those who successfully complete training and begin employment as a lifeguard, according to a June 21 news release from Polis’ office. 

Spending time at a local public pool is a fun and healthy way to enjoy our beautiful Colorado summers. But across the state we need to fix the shortage of lifeguards and pool workers to open closed pools and expand operating hours as we head into July 4th weekend and the heat of summer,” Polis said. 

The Pools Special Initiative 2022

To stop staffing shortages and pool limitations and closures, one of the efforts Polis announced on June 21 is a new grant program: Pools Special Initiative 2022.

According to the news release, this is a one-time grant program that aims to incentivize and retain public swimming pool employees. The program is a partnership between the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and the Office of Economic Development and International Trade’s Outdoor Recreation Industry Office.

The grant has $350,000 in available funding, and eligible recipients of the grant include local governments operating a public swimming pool that is experiencing issues with recruiting and retaining staff this summer. 

The maximum amount a grant applicant can receive is $25,000. According to the news release, “local governments are encouraged to utilize federal stimulus funds to match this grant opportunity.” Funds can be used for expenses related to recruiting, attracting and retaining public swimming pool employees, such as offering pay increases or signing bonuses. 

Applications are being accepted until June 28, and awards will be made July 1. The grant program is expected to end Sept. 30, 2022. 

New lifeguards can get $1,000, more overtime for 16- and 17-year-old lifeguards

In addition to funding being offered to local governments, there are also opportunities for incoming lifeguards to earn $1,000, the news release stated. 

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment announced that, in collaboration with local workforce centers, it will provide workforce training and support recruitment efforts through the Reskilling, Upskilling and Next-skilling grant. 

Through the grant program, individuals will be paid up to $1,000 if they complete the required training to become a certified lifeguard and begin employment as a lifeguard. Those interested in more information can visit: cdle.colorado.gov/news-article/lifeguards-needed-June2022.

“We’re excited to be a part of this multi-agency effort to get more public pools open for longer hours,” said Joe Barela, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. “The Reskilling, Upskilling, and Next-skilling Workers (RUN) grant sweetens the deal by allowing teens to earn money while they complete the necessary training and secure the certifications needed to be a lifeguard at our pools. Interested teens and their parents should visit their local workforce center or cdle.colorado.gov/jobs-training to get support signing up.”

To help increase available staffing capacity, the department also announced that it is issuing an emergency waiver effective immediately through Sept. 5, 2022, that will allow 16- and 17-year-old lifeguards to work more overtime if they want to. Under this waiver, these lifeguards can work no more than 10 hours per day and 54 hours per week. 

"Coloradans should be able safely enjoy time with friends and family during the hot summer months, and we’re going to get more pools open and expand hours,” Polis said. 

Pool, Lifeguard, Staffing shortage, Pirate's Cove, Grant program, Governor Jared Polis

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