Steamboat Springs First Impressions of Routt County has received a grant that will pay for professional development for early childhood education providers.
The Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation, based in Denver, awarded a $45,000 grant to the group.
Local child-care workers who are interested in furthering their education can take advantage of the grant money as soon as January.
"We are very excited about the grant," said Renee Donahue, First Impressions community liaison. "Professional development is one of the key factors in improving quality and care for our children."
The grant money will pay for courses at an accredited institution, including Colorado Mountain College and Colorado Northwestern Community College.
The grant money can be used to pay for college tuition, textbooks, conferences and other training expenses related to early childhood education. The grant money can also be used to pay for substitutes who are regular staff members taking college courses or attending a conference.
Applications for the spring semester are available at First Impressions, Child Care Network and any licensed home or center. Applications must be submitted by Dec. 28.
A three-member panel will select applicants for grant assistance.
Panel members will include Donahue, Sharyl Ritschel of the Child Care Network and Tami Havener of the Family Development Center.
"We are expecting we will get a lot of applications and it will be competitive," Donahue said. "This will not be the only application deadline. The grant is for a whole year."
Applicants will be notified by Jan. 4.
First Impressions applied for the grant in September. Winnie DelliQuadri, who is a grant analyst for the city of Steamboat Springs, helped prepare the grant application.
"This is a large grant," Donahue said. "It is much more than the foundation usually gives."
The foundation awarded First Impressions the grant because of the group's committed work to improving early childhood care in Routt County.
"The foundation has been impressed with the work we have done," Donahue said.
First Impressions applied for the grant because of results from a survey.
Before the grant was submitted, First Impressions asked local child-care providers if their staff would take advantage of grant money for professional development.
"It is proven the higher level of education and training teachers have, the better experience children will have," Donahue said.