First Impressions awarded $42K grant

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— A $42,000 grant from the Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation is expected to help improve the quality of early childhood education offered in Routt County.

The grant was awarded last week to First Impressions of Routt County, an advocacy and support organization for local early childhood education providers.

"We are so excited," said Renee Donahue, director of First Impressions. This is the fourth consecutive year in which the Buell Foundation awarded a grant to First Impressions, Donahue said.

The focus of the grant is to further professional development and accountability within the early childhood education community, Donahue said.

About one-quarter, or $10,000, of the grant will be used to offset tuition costs accrued by local child-care workers who enroll in college-level courses related to their field of work.

"It has really been proven that higher educated teachers provide higher quality care for children," Donahue said.

First Impressions will dedicate about $17,000 of the total grant allotment for programs that measure and track the progress of children enrolled in local child-care homes and centers, Donahue said. The programs are part of a system to measure child outcomes and create a heightened awareness of children's progress while in the care of early childhood education centers and homes.

The remaining $15,000 will go to help county child-care providers participate in the Qualistar Early Learning ratings system, an accountability program that evaluates and rates early childhood education providers across the state. The ratings system also gives participating providers a list of recommendations to improve the care they offer children and families.

Being approved for the grant was somewhat of a surprise because the Buell Foundation typically only funds specific organizations or communities for three years, Donahue said. Buell Foundation grants manager Marilie Hart said the foundation doesn't comment about specific grant recipients.

The Buell Foundation, established in 1962, supports programs and initiatives geared toward children. A special emphasis is given to the areas of early intervention, prevention and improving the social and educational systems critical to the development and well being of Colorado's youths.

Temple Hoyne Buell was a renowned architect and civic and business leader. He died in 1990. To date, his foundation has granted more than $46 million.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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