Commissioners proclaim Month of the Young Child

In his four years as a Routt County commissioner, Doug Monger has seen a lot of important issues come before him.

Few of those issues, Monger said Tuesday, are as important as quality early childhood care and education.

"When I first came on as commissioner, I thought of child care as a family issue," he said. "As I've gotten into this, I've seen it's more than a parent issue. It's a societal issue, just like health care."

Bringing awareness to early childhood care and its importance in the development of young children was the impetus behind a proclamation signed by Monger and fellow commissioners Nancy Stahoviak and Dan Ellison on Tuesday.

The resolution recognizes April as the Month of the Young Child in Routt County.

The Month of the Young Child officially kicks off today with a family fair from 5 to 7 p.m. at Steamboat Springs High School.

The free fair, a mix of entertainment and educational services, is a community collaboration, said Renee Donahue, early childhood manager for First Impressions of Routt County.

"It's going to be fun," Donahue said. "There's a lot of fun activities for kids and helpful information for parents. It's a great event for the entire family."

The fair will feature booths providing parents with information on services available to Routt County families and children, carnival games sponsored by the high school's leadership class, egg coloring, face painting and a variety of other arts and crafts activities and informational booths, Donahue said.

Food and drinks will be provided, as well as door prizes, including coveted priority registration for summer camp activities through the Parks and Recreation Department.

Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue will bring its new fire engine to the fair along with car-seat technicians who will check to ensure the proper installation of child-safety seats.

Jacqui Campbell, the fire and life safety educator for Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue, said parents install 90 percent of car seats incorrectly.

"If you're in an accident of any kind, you want the seat to be properly fit," Campbell said. "It's crucial they're installed correctly for a child's safety."

Campbell encouraged families to bring their vehicles and car seats to the high school for inspection. The car-seat technicians also can help custom fit a seat to each child.

Today's family fair is just one of many activities planned by local organizations for the Month of the Young Child. Other activities throughout April include puppet shows and a downtown parade.

Shining a spotlight on issues of early childhood education couldn't come at a better time, Donahue said. Providing quality child care at affordable rates for local families is an issue in Routt County, and it's been highlighted by the recent closure of Kinderhaus Family Center and the scheduled closure of Holy Name Preschool. Families whose children attend Holy Name Preschool are working with church officials in an effort to keep the highly rated child-care center open.

"The timing is very good for people to be aware of this issue," Donahue said. "It needs to stay at the forefront of our community's awareness. The recent events only emphasize the importance."

For more information on the Month of the Young Child activities, call Donahue at 870-5270.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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