Routt County residents and people across the nation are encouraged to celebrate young children this month.
That celebration, however, should be tempered with awareness about the problems families face when it comes to childcare, said Renee Donahue, the early childhood manager for First Impressions of Routt County.
April is the Month of the Young Child, when education and childcare experts across the country focus attention on young children, families and the people who work with them, Donahue said.
Despite its importance to the well-being and future of children, early childhood education and care faces many difficulties, Donahue said.
Recruiting and retaining quality staff to teach children who are 5 years old and younger is a big issue. People who teach and care for these children are paid less than those who teach older children, she said, which is a primary reason why childcare is so expensive.
"It's a huge piece of the budgets; that's why they charge so much," Donahue said. "It's just a piece of the problem."
She said the problem affects a lot of families.
"Families are struggling to pay what the programs are charging," she said.
Donahue said, she wants people to shop for good childcare, which is readily available in the area.
"Providing quality is something that we have been striving for in Routt County," she said. "We have extremely high-quality programs in Routt County."
Donahue also wants people to be aware that the local community supports early childhood education.
"We should feel lucky in our community that we do have the support of the city and the county and the local funders," she said.
Several activities this month will allow children to play and parents and teachers to focus on the purpose of the Month of the Young Child, which all local governments will recognize with a proclamation. The activities include:
n Yoga for 4- and 5-year-olds with Nancy Spooner at 11:15 a.m., noon and 1:45 p.m. Friday at Tamara's Dance Studio in Oak Creek. Sessions last 30 minutes. Reserve a spot by calling 870-5275.
n A parenting panel discussion for parents whose children are 5 and younger is from 6 to 7:30 p.m. April 10 at the United Methodist Church in Steamboat Springs. Reserve a spot by calling 879-1290.
n A showing of "Lady and the Tramp" is at 9:30 a.m. April 12 and 13 at Steamboat Mountain Theater in Ski Time Square.
n A meeting for preschool, kindergarten and first-grade teachers about transition issues among the grades is from 4 to 6 p.m. April 13 at the Routt County Human Resources Building.
n A puppet show is at 6:30 p.m. April 14 at Steamboat Mountain Theater. Tickets are $5 for adults and $1 for children.
n An Easter Egg Hunt sponsored by the city of Steamboat Springs is at 11 a.m. April 15 at Howelsen Hill. Participants should wear mud boots and bring baskets. Call 879-4300.
n A children's parade is from 10 to 11 a.m. April 20 on Lincoln Avenue from Seventh to Ninth streets.
n A Trike-a-thon to raise money for St. Jude's Hospital is from 10 to 11 a.m. April 21 at the North Routt Preschool. Call 870-5275.
n "Day of the Child" activities, including bilingual storytelling and a puppet show, are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 22 at Hayden Public Library.
n A pajama party is at 6 p.m. April 28 at Hayden Public Library. Call 276-3777.
For information about any of these activities, call First Impressions at 870-5275.