By Michael Moon, Chair, Estes Park EDC Childcare Services Committee
The Childcare Services Committee of the Estes Park Economic Development Corporation has commissioned a professional childcare needs assessment for the Estes Valley. The focus of the Childcare Services Committee includes addressing the need for quality, affordable childcare as a cornerstone element in creating a long-term sustainable workforce within the Estes Valley, and highlighting the importance of early childhood education, particularly for children from birth through five years of age.
While there is abundant anecdotal evidence pointing to the need for additional childcare and early childhood education capacity in the Estes Valley, the Childcare Services Committee quickly realized the importance of obtaining concrete data before viable community-based and business-based solutions could be developed.
The needs assessment will provide a clearer picture of our community’s diverse needs in two ways. First, quantitative data will help identify the numbers and ages of children in our community, as well as additional information such as the times of day and days of the week when childcare services are most needed, state requirements relating to appropriate facilities for early childhood education, and the impact that the cost of quality childcare has on families across the economic spectrum. Second, qualitative data will help provide an understanding of cultural, social and familial issues that have an important impact on the development of quality, affordable early childhood education.
The Childcare Services Committee consulted with local agencies to help define the types of questions that need to be addressed in a comprehensive data-driven needs assessment. The committee then began reaching out to organizations across the country to best determine the most appropriate scope of a childcare needs assessment, and to identify potential research organizations with experience conducting these kinds of assessments in community settings similar to the Estes Valley.
A number of leading organizations in the community, recognizing the importance of a professional data assessment, pledged a total of $45,000 for the project. Supporting organizations include the Estes Park EDC, Estes Park Housing Authority, Estes Park School District R-3, Estes Valley Investment in Childhood Success (EVICS), Estes Valley Recreation and Parks District, the Town of Estes Park, Visit Estes Park, YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Valley Partners for Commerce, Estes Area Lodging Association, Estes Valley Library, and Families for Estes.
In June, following a review of proposals from three different organizations, the Childcare Services Committee unanimously selected BBC Research and Consulting, based in Denver, to conduct the needs assessment. BBC Research was favored because of the strength of their proposal, relevant experience, and strong recommendations.
BBC Research will begin the needs assessment process in early August, and expect to conclude the project by December 30, 2017. The committee will continue to provide support for BBC Research to help ensure the participation of as many members of our community as possible. The Childcare Services Committee includes Michael Moon (chair), Charley Dickey (co-chair) Rev. Dr. Tim McLemore (Crossroads Ministry of Estes Park), Travis Machalek (Town of Estes Park), John Bryant (Estes Park School District R-3), José Almeida (Estes Park School District R-3), Kristen Berg (EVICS), Courtney Hill (YMCA of the Rockies), Judy Nystrom (Boys and Girls Club of Larimer County), and Sara Bertucci (Eagle Rock School.)
The committee is also kicking off a 6-month educational effort that we hope will involve all of the community in detailed discussions of the childcare/Early Childhood Education impact on our community. We sincerely hope that you will join us in this effort through public events sponsored by various community organizations and through outreach programs involving small group discussion in homes across the valley.The public is invited to the first program starting at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, August 7, at Presbyterian Community Church of the Rockies. The Early Childhood Colorado Partnership will share an impactful presentation on shared messaging, which has been successful in diverse communities across the state. When children and families succeed, we all benefit and our community prospers. Come learn more about how to speak from a collective voice to raise awareness and promote children’s well-being in our community. Dinner will be served at 6:00 p.m., followed by more detailed information – including a training session for persons interested in facilitating future education events – for anyone interested in learning more. Persons who are able to attend the August 7 meeting should RSVP to Nancy Almond, nalmond@EVICS.org.
For more information about the work of the Childcare Services Committee, watch for future announcements or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.