First Impressions to host candidate event about education

First Impressions will host candidate event today

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If you go

What: First Impressions of Routt County candidate forum

When: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. today

Where: Commissioners Hearing Room in the Routt County Courthouse

Call: Stephanie Martin at 870-5270

— Today's First Impressions of Routt County forum gives local candidates a chance to talk about how government should address early childhood care and education.

Each candidate, vying for a seat on the Steamboat Springs City Council or Steamboat Springs School Board, will have three minutes for an introduction and one minute to answer one question: Colorado ranks toward the bottom of the list for state funding of early childhood care and education programs. What should the role of local government be when it comes to these programs?

Stephanie Martin, early childhood manager for First Impressions, said all seven City Council candidates and three School Board candidates plan to attend the forum.

The City Council candidates include Cari Hermacinski, Kevin Bennett, Kenny Reisman, Ken Solomon, Walter Magill, Jim Engelken and Kyle Pietras. The School Board candidates include Denise Connelly, Bill Kennedy and Brian Kelly.

The event begins at 11:30 a.m. today in the Commissioners Hearing Room of the Routt County Courthouse. Lunch will be served at no cost.

Martin said the forum is intended to educate the candidates about the importance of early childhood care and education and to find out where they stand on issues facing area families with young children.

She said such issues are especially important given the current economic recession.

"Our families with young children are having a harder time making ends meet," she said.

Martin said that as of June, 70 area children were eligible for additional assistance from First Impressions' early childhood education scholarship fund - assistance that First Impressions couldn't provide. She added that First Impressions believes there are 25 area families not enrolling in child care programs because they can't find assistance.

The $200,000 scholarship fund assists 200 children and is paid for by contributions from the city of Steamboat Springs, Routt County and United Way of Routt County. Martin said First Impressions couldn't ask those entities for more funding.

She said funding sources for First Impressions have allowed the organization to continue offering services to area families but have not allowed it to grow during a time when the need is greater than ever.

For more information or to RSVP to today's event, contact Martin at 870-5270.

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