The announcement that Holy Name Preschool won't close is good news for the community as a whole and for the families of the 40 students in particular.
It was the parents of the students whose persistent efforts and creative thinking helped to keep the school open for at least one more year.
An agreement involving Holy Name Catholic Church officials, preschool staff, parents of preschool students and First Impressions of Routt County was reached last week that will keep the center open through the 2004-05 school year. Parents have 12 months to come up with a long-term plan to keep the school open.
The Holy Name Preschool Reorganization Committee, representing groups with ties to the preschool, will continue to meet in an effort to develop that long-term plan. Ultimately, the users of the center have to find a way to reduce the almost $60,000 annual subsidy the church provides the preschool.
Whether that plan comes to fruition remains to be seen, but at least the families have a chance, something they didn't appear to have last month when Holy Name announced plans to close for good June 4 because of financial difficulties.
The announcement came just a few months after another center, Kinderhaus, closed its doors. If Holy Name had closed, the county would have been left with eight centers, most of which say they, too, are struggling financially.
As we have said before, access to affordable, quality child care is critical to our community's health. Without reasonable access to child care, many parents who could enhance the community's work force are forced to stay at home.
We recently suggested ways to help address the child-care issue in the community, including encouraging more in-home care providers, re-examining the role the school district plays in terms of all-day kindergarten, engaging businesses to consider partnerships with local facilities and encouraging individuals to consider giving to child-care programs and taking advantage of the tax incentives such gifts provide.
Those steps are no less important now that Holy Name has reversed its decision. Child-care costs are at levels that many working families simply can't afford, and those costs continue to rise. Child-care facilities continue to struggle with low wages and thus high turnover of child-care workers. There is limited availability, particularly for infant care, in Routt County.
That is the war that First Impressions and other child-care advocates must continue to fight. But a battle has been won at Holy Name. Give credit to First Impressions, the church and, most of all, to the parents for finding a way to keep the preschool open for at least another year. Here's hoping a solution that keeps the preschool open long-term is the next step.