The Routt County Department of Human Services has been awarded a $60,000 state grant to help improve the quality of child-care facilities.
"It's a very positive step in the direction of improving child care in Routt County," said Renee Donahue, early childhood manager for First Impressions of Routt County. "It basically supports all of our efforts."
The county has received similar grants in past years, but those grants specifically were geared toward infant and toddler programs, Donahue said. This grant will allow the county to provide funds to any child-care provider that participates in the Educare Colorado ratings system.
Educare Colorado is a nonprofit group dedicated to enhancing the development of children throughout the state. Last year, Educare launched the state's first in-depth evaluation process of child-care providers. The ratings process includes site visits and provides each child-care center a detailed evaluation packet complete with specific recommendations for improving the quality of its program.
Those quality improvement recommendations will be the focus of the $60,000 grant, Donahue said. Fifteen Routt County child-care providers are participating in the second year of the Educare ratings system. Those ratings and their associated improvement recommendations are expected to be completed this summer, after which local providers will have the opportunity to apply to First Impressions for a portion of the $60,000. Any funds must be used toward Educare-recommended improvements.
"These grants are to support the findings from those ratings," Donahue said. She doesn't anticipate any grants will be rewarded until August or September.
The Yampa Valley Community Foundation also is expected to contribute grant money toward quality improvement for child-care providers, Donahue said. Combining the state grant money with funds from the foundation will further increase the opportunity for improvement.
"Ultimately, of course, it benefits the children in the programs and their families," Donahue said.
The $60,000 state Department of Human Services grant was awarded to Routt County by the Division of Child Care. Routt County was one of 31 state counties to apply for the funds.
Four Routt County child-care providers agreed to publicly release their Educare quality ratings last year. Discovery Learning Center was rated one of the state's best child-care providers, earning the maximum of four stars. The Lauren Street School and Holy Name Preschool each received three stars, and Hayden home provider Julie Redmond received two stars.
In March, Holy Name Church officials announced the pending closure of its preschool. But through the intervention of dedicated parents and county child-care officials, the church agreed to work out a solution to keep the center open while searching for a way to improve its budget.
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