Steamboat Springs The scarcity of licensed child care providers in the Yampa Valley leaves working parents without many options. With a one- to two-year waiting list at most local child care facilities, some parents have to quit their jobs to stay home with their children or plan years ahead of time to enroll them in day care.
"You have to find a day care for your child before you actually become pregnant," said Amber Tice, a licensed home child care provider for six years at Curtain Climbers. She has to turn away children at her home because she is operating at full capacity.
First Impressions of Routt County is sponsoring a free prelicensing clinic for people who are interested in become licensed child care providers. The clinic is part of 21 hours of mandatory training necessary to be licensed. It will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Holy Name Catholic Church, 524 Oak St.
In response to the large demand for child care providers, First Impressions of Routt County is sponsoring a free pre-licensing training class for child care providers who want to become licensed. The class will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Holy Name Catholic Church in Steamboat. It will be taught by Janet Martinez, who was a licensed provider for 14 years and currently is a trainer for Wildwood Resources. Martinez will cover information spanning from the business aspects of child care to child development and guidance of behavior.
"Becoming a licensed child care provider is a viable way to start a new business, especially if you have a child at home and choose to stay at home with the child," said Renee Donahue, the community liaison for First Impressions of Routt County.
Saturday's training class is part of 21 hours of mandatory training that people have to complete to become licensed. The training also includes infant/toddler CPR and first aid training, and a four-hour medication class, Martinez said. People seeking to become licensed also have to send an application to the state, go through a background check and their home has to be in compliance with state regulations. After becoming licensed providers are required to receive nine hours of continuing education per year.
"We're not just baby-sitters anymore we're licensed child care providers," Martinez said.
Donahue encourages people in the Yampa Valley to become licensed child care providers because licensing gets them into a network of grants and programs that can help their businesses.
First Impressions offers incentives that include reimbursing individuals for any licensing fees, she said.
Providers can also take advantage of incentive programs that cover the expenses associated with providing food and snacks for children. Donahue works closely with providers to help them get grant money for maintaining and improving their facilities.
"It's not a very long process to get licensed and there are many benefits," Donahue said.
Tice's home child care has benefited from two grants that it received within the last year. One helped to get a new carpet; the other aided in establishing a learning program for the children.
"Financially in this town, it's hard to start a business and this isn't the type of business that will make you millions, but making grants available opens so many roads," Tice said.
Thanks to First Impressions' efforts to bring training programs to this area, the licensing can now be done locally. Before the local programs, providers would have to travel to Denver to get their training, Tice said.
Larissa Keever is an intern with the Steamboat Pilot/Steamboat Today