Funding boost for preschools

First Impressions receives $67,000 in grants

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— Local preschools will continue to benefit from the work of a county organization.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners gave final approval Tuesday to two grants for First Impressions of Routt County, which facilitates funding for early childhood education throughout the county.

While the $47,000 grant from the Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation equals a grant First Impressions received from that foundation in 2006, a county official said Tuesday that another grant is much more of a milestone.

"We're very excited about the $20,000 grant from the Daniels Fund," said Bob White, director of the Routt County Human Services Department. "Not only is it a new funding source, it was the first grant that Stephanie Howle wrote on her own. This is a major accomplishment for Stephanie."

Howle is the Early Childhood Manager for First Impressions. She replaced Renee Donahue in September.

Howle is on a holiday vacation and could not be reached Tuesday.

Routt County oversees First Impressions. White said the $67,000 in grant funding will be used to increase the availability of training for early childhood professionals, to continue enacting "quality improvement plans" given to local preschools by state education officials, and to expand First Impressions' staffing.

"The Daniels Fund will allow us to be able to afford a childcare specialist to provide quality and technical assistance to our providers," White said. "It will definitely make a difference in the quality of preschools in Steamboat Springs."

First Impressions was formed in March 1998. Funds from grants received by First Impressions benefit 10 early childhood education centers, three preschools and 21 licensed home providers that serve a total of 890 children in Routt County.

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