Elbert County is a child-care desert. “There is only one licensed family child care home in Simla, and there are no centers that will take infants,” said Llan Barkley, executive director of the …
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Elbert County is a child-care desert.
“There is only one licensed family child care home in Simla, and there are no centers that will take infants,” said Llan Barkley, executive director of the Elbert County Early Childhood Council. “Little Indians day care just opened in Kiowa, but they take children starting at 12 months. Elbert County is considered a child-care desert.”
According to Barkley, many parents have to drive to Parker or Castle Rock to find day care for their infants. That's a problem she hopes the ECECC can help remedy by offering financial assistance and continuing support for people in Elbert County who want to open an in-home day care.
The ECECC is comprised of community members including school principals, preschool directors, representatives from the Elbert County Department of Human Services, parents, and other agencies and programs that help promote or are interested in ensuring that children are happy, healthy, and in environments that further their development whether it be in their homes, preschools, or at a neighbor's house. It is funded by the state of Colorado and private grants.
“The council is always available to help them start an in-home child-care center,” said Barkley. “We also support the family, friend and neighbor program.”
The family, friend and neighbor program is when community members take care of children to help their family members, friends or neighbors out, which, according to Barkley, is the most common place for parents to find infant care in the county. The ECECC would like to help with funding for taking care of the children.
“We are working on trying to network with our family, friends and neighbors and support them and help them have resources they need to help support kids,” said Barkley.
The ECECC is working on an outreach program to help parents find neighbors, family or friends to take care of their infants, which typically is done by word of mouth. They are also encouraging anyone who has ever thought of opening an in-home day care to do so.
“We would be so excited and would work very closely with them to help them with resources, information and financial support as much as possible,” said Barkley. “We can help them apply for different grants.”
One grant that is available through the Early Childhood Council Leadership Alliance and the Buell Foundation helps new child-care centers get started by helping with pre-licensing costs, supplies and home modifications. Existing licensed providers can use that money to buy new supplies, update space or expand their facility or hire new staff.
The ECECC also provides funding for training for providers, such as paying for conferences and training workshops, or providing scholarships for those who want to become a preschool teacher.
Barkley said the ECECC has worked with the Elbert County officials and the Department of Human Services to make opening an in-home day care easier and more affordable.
“If you are opening an in-home child-care center with six or fewer children, it is a use by right, so there is no rezoning necessary, so no additional fee applies,” said Barkley. “It keeps money in our county and helps take care of the children.”
In addition to supporting in-home child-care providers, the ECECC also supports the Nurse Family Partnership Program, which pairs first-time, young mothers in Elbert County with a nurse, who provides home visits throughout pregnancy and support until the child turns 2. They also sponsor Swaddling Clothes in the county, which is held the second Saturday of each month at the Christ our Savior Lutheran Church in Elizabeth. Swaddling clothes provides free clothing, toys and supplies for children.
Anyone interested in any of the services provided by ECECC can contact Barkley at 903-744-2928 or visit the website at ECECC.org.
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