Activities planned for Month of the Young Child

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As the early childhood manager for First Impressions of Routt County, Renee Donahue has seen an improvement in child-care programs.

Local initiatives, such as scholarship programs to make child care more affordable for some families and to provide tuition money for child-care professionals who want to further their educations, have had positive effects in the county, Donahue said.

"We have seen improvement in quality and in the education of the people who work with children," Donahue said. "Part of it is the support we get from the county, the city and the whole community."

But there is plenty of room for improvement when it comes to providing for the community's youngest residents, Donahue said. Affordability continues to be a fundamental problem in child care, and Routt County continues to struggle to provide a level of infant and toddler care that meets the needs of local families.

Donahue hopes April, which is the national Month of the Young Child, will help shine the spotlight on early childhood education and health.

"Routt County tends to look good compared to the rest of the state, but the rest of the state isn't very good," Donahue said, adding that Colorado is ranked near the bottom of the nation in some child health statistics.

On Monday, the Colorado Children's Campaign is hosting a free luncheon at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel and Conference Center to discuss child health issues.

"The real idea is to bring a large group of stakeholders together to really get a better sense of what's happening with children's health at the state and local levels," said Lanah Hake, director of child health initiatives for the Colorado Children's Campaign and one of Monday's scheduled speakers.

The luncheon, titled "Bringing our Community Together for Healthier Kids," is from noon to 1:30 p.m. Because of limited seating, an RSVP is requested for those who wish to attend.

"We would like to see health care providers, anybody who works with children and parents (attend the luncheon) in order to get feedback," Donahue said.

All attendees will receive a children's health toolkit and statistical information about child health in Routt County, Hake said. They also will have a chance to help pinpoint and work toward solutions for local child-care and child health issues.

Monday's luncheon will kick off Month of the Young Child, but numerous other events throughout April will seek to keep the focus on early childhood issues. A teacher appreciation dinner is April 9 at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel and Conference Center, a Gender Matters workshop is April 25 at Centennial Hall, a children's parade is April 29, and a North Routt Community Day featuring activities and entertainment for children is April 30.

"April is a month to celebrate young children in our community and also the professionals who work with them," Donahue said.

To RSVP for Monday's luncheon or for more information, call 870-5275.

or e-mail fimpressions@co.routt.co.us.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234 or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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