Routt County recognizes Month of the Young Child
April 28, 2012
Steamboat Springs — Children will parade down Lincoln Avenue on Monday morning to raise awareness of the importance of early-childhood care and education.
The event organized by First Impressions of Routt County will close out April's Month of the Young Child.
"This is a national celebration, and First Impressions has been celebrating this since our inception, which was in 1998," said Stephanie Martin, the program supervisor for First Impressions. "It's a great opportunity to thank all of Routt County for their support of early childhood care and education."
Among the goals of First Impressions is ensuring that children have access to child care and education programs. Martin said that last year, First Impressions was working with a budget of about $430,000. More than $200,000 was available to 179 low-income families that received tuition assistance benefiting 205 children. The Early Childhood Care and Education Tuition Scholarship Program is funded by Routt County United Way and the Human Resource Coalition, which receives funds from Routt County and the city of Steamboat Springs.
Martin said that despite the programs, there is a disparity between the funding available and the number of families who need help paying for child care and early childhood education.
A family of four is not eligible for assistance if they earn more than $29,280, or 36 percent of the area median income. But according to the 2011 Self-Sufficiency Standard for Routt County, a family of four with an infant and a preschooler must make $78,818 annually to meet their basic needs. That income puts a family at 98 percent of the area median income.
With a 16 percent decrease in state funding last year, First Impressions has had to make cuts, Martin said. That has included scaling back on the activities usually planned each year during the Month of the Young Child. This year, proclamations were read before the Routt County Board of Commissioners and other elected officials in Steamboat, Oak Creek, Yampa and Hayden. Celebrations also were held at the libraries in Hayden, Oak Creek and Yampa.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com