Tracy Chamberlain, The Durango Telegraph
It turns out the most important piece is also the hardest to find.
Open day care seats for infants, toddlers and preschoolers are few and far between in Southwest Colorado, and it’s a challenge to get and keep qualified teachers and providers to care for those kids.
All the while, the number of children who need those seats and teachers to lay the foundation for a lifetime of learning, are growing fast.
One local nonprofit has spent the past 18 years fighting to fill the gap in early childhood education, and this week it plans to take the next step with a public campaign to raise awareness of its efforts.
he Early Childhood Council of La Plata County, or ECCLPC, first opened its doors in 1998 as two small pilot programs, one in Ignacio and the other in Durango. Since then, they’ve been combined into one nonprofit organization serving five counties in Southwest Colorado.
The focus is on four main aspects of early childhood education: providing resources and referrals for parents; offering quality support for providers; hosting professional training and development programs; and providing opportunities to expand infant and toddler care in the region.
Kimberlie Brown, regional collaboration coordinator for the ECCLPC, said the lack of enough child-care options for parents is nothing new in this area. “It has been an issue for a long time,” she added.
In a recent survey conducted by the council, 14 out of the 15 child-care centers they talked to have waiting lists for all age groups.
In an effort to combat those growing lists, the council has received grant funding with the El Pomar Foundation, headquartered in Colorado Springs, for a second consecutive year.
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