Parade aims to raise awareness | SteamboatToday.com

Parade aims to raise awareness

Event hopes to bring attention to early childhood programs

Matthew Beaudin

— Today’s children’s parade in downtown Steamboat Springs is a chance to recognize Routt County’s youngest children and fuel their sparkplug minds. It’s also a chance to raise awareness for what studies indicate is a lack of child care spots within the county.

The parade, from 10 to 11 a.m. on Lincoln Avenue between Seventh and Ninth streets, is part of April’s Month of the Young Child events. Children from area child care centers will march a few blocks, then line up for face painting and to tinker with fire trucks.

Some parents, though, have to line up for child care. According to the 2009 Routt County Early Care and Education Needs Assessment, only 47 percent of parents found early childhood care and education for their children within three months. Many waited more than a year to secure a spot.

“It’s a community concern,” said Steve Ivancie, a First Impressions of Routt County board member and Steamboat Springs City Council member. First Impressions, a local child care advocacy group, sponsored this month’s events.

The annual parade aims “to raise awareness to not only the programs in Routt County but the wonderful investment it is in our children,” Ivancie said. “It’s better to invest now in our young people as far as their development and their health as it is to treat them later.”

Katina Kline, a preschool teacher at the Laurel Street School and Family Center, will march her classes down to today’s parade.

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“We just kind of go around in a little circle,” she said. “We sing and dance and let the kids go around and around.”

Laurel Street is one area child care center that’s booked solid.

“We are totally full,” Kline said. “We have a waiting list of 100 or more people. For both classrooms. So I do see there is a huge problem.”

Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Shalee Cunningham hopes the district can, in time, chip in.

“We are looking at day care options for employees,” she said. “I hope that we will be able to open up a day care center for employees in my tenure here.”

Ivancie thinks the child care challenge is one the greater Steamboat community is up to.

“A society is judged by how it treats its elderly and its young,” he said. “This community has shown time and time again that it is up to the challenge. I don’t think it’s insurmountable at all.”

Early childhood education events run through the next few weeks – there’s a children’s carnival Wednesday at Steamboat Springs High School, preschool story-time at Hayden Public Library on Thursday, and a parenting and pizza night May 12.

Call First Impressions of Routt County at 870-5270 for more information, or visit http://www.firstimpressionsofrouttcounty.org.

If you go

What: Month of the Young Child parade on Lincoln Avenue

When: 10 to 11 a.m. today

Where: Lincoln Avenue, between Seventh and Ninth streets

Cost: Free

Other: The parade includes jugglers, music, face painting and a fire engine.