Hi Friends and Supporters of Early Childhood Education,
I am writing to ask for your continued support for childcare services in Estes Park. As you are aware, EVICS is working closely with the EDC Childcare Services Committee on the Community Childcare Needs Assessment. The results from that study are due at the end of January. At the same time, we recognized a potential opportunity for childcare space in the soon-to-be vacated existing Senior Center on 4th Street. We made the recommendation to the Town that they consider leasing the facility to a qualified childcare operator since we know from anecdotal data that there is an immediate need for infant/toddler care. The Town then asked us to prepare a proposal, to be considered along with 2 additional community proposals for use of the Senior Center. The 3 proposed uses the Town Board will be considering are: 1) Leasing to Senior Center Inc, for a gathering place; 2) Museum artifacts storage, and 3) our proposed use for a Licensed Childcare Program, with emphasis on infant/toddler age group.
Each proposed use will be given the opportunity to present their case to the Town Board on January 23. EVICS is currently recruiting “letters of interest” from viable, licensed childcare operators, which we will review. If we are satisfied with one or more viable options we will follow through with our proposal. In the event we do not receive what we believe is a viable option, we will withdraw our proposal. Either way, the issue of childcare has been included in the Town Board’s 2018 Strategic Plan, and we are urging community members to share your voice and communicate to Town Board members how important it is that they follow through on addressing this issue.
Our community has struggled with a shortage of available childcare options for years. There are no licensed early childhood centers for children under the age of 2.5. There are 12 slots for children under 2.5 with licensed home providers, with only 8 of those slots open to children under the age of one year. The limited number of legally licensed slots available are full and have waiting lists. Too few children have access to reliable, safe, quality care that not only impacts their development, but helps families be able to live and work in our community.
Here are two ways you can help:
- Attend Town Board meetings. They happen at 7:00 p.m. on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month. There will not be a Town Board Meeting on Dec 26th, so the next 2 opportunities are Jan 9th and 23rd. We hope to have parents, employers, and others show up to Town Board meetings to simply demonstrate the need for a community investment in the childcare issue, and the impact of “doing nothing.” If you feel inclined, we encourage you to speak during the public comment section, which happens in the first 15 minutes of the Town Board Meeting and does not require prior sign-up. Speaking from your personal experience as a parent, employer, or concerned citizen is helpful and demonstrates the reality of the issue.
- Letters to the Editor are also impactful. Writing from the heart and sharing a personal story is powerful. If you choose to write a letter you can submit it as a Letter to the Editor to firstname.lastname@example.org by noon on Tuesdays, and it will run in that Fridays’ paper. You can submit letters to the editor to the Trail Gazette by going to www.eptrail.com/submit.
If you have questions, or would like more information, please reach out to me, or call EVICS at 586-3055. Thank you for your interest and support,
Nancy Almond, EVICS Program Director