Steamboat Springs In its first round of granting, the Yampa Valley Community Foundation gave more than $20,000 to 18 child-care providers last Saturday.
Two years ago, the foundation coupled with First Impressions to start a program to improve the quality of child care through the Routt County Early Childhood Education Quality Certification program. And this month, designated as the Month of the Young Child, the local child-care providers received for the first time grants ranging from $300 to $1,000.
Three of the 18 child-care providers were given special designation for meeting the standards of the Routt County certification. Two home providers, Julie Redmond and Nancy White, and one center, Discovery Learning Center, were awarded $1,000 for the achievement.
To get Routt County certification, child-care providers had to earn a five or higher on a seven-point rating scale that evaluated eight factors in the classroom, center and home. On two different occasions, trained observers looked at space and furnishings, personal care routines, language and reasoning, learning activities, interaction, program structure, parents and staff and health and safety.
Child-care providers also had to meet goals they had set after the first observation a year ago.
During her speech at the April 6 awards ceremony, foundation CEO Dianna Sutton said Redmond's program was rated high among child-care observers.
"(Redmond's) desire to learn as much as she can about early childhood development and what is developmentally appropriate is evident in her everyday practice. She is constantly observing the children in her care, assessing their needs and offering them experiences that will enhance their development," Sutton said were words observers used to describe Redmond's program.
For years, White has been teaching and caring for children in a rural setting, Sutton said. Observers noted White had used this setting to offer unique activities like raising chickens, feeding llamas, cooking meals and fending off the occasional bear.
Discovery Learning Center was the only center to be awarded the Routt County certificate. Operating for 20 years, the center has preschool, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs.
Sutton said the Routt County certification from the foundation and First Impressions signifies child-care providers that have achieved excellence in early childhood education. In the foundation's three-year initiative, more child-care programs are expected to receive Routt County certification.
"Our goal is to continue seeing significant improvements in early childhood education and for more (child-care providers) to be at the certified level," Sutton said.