Routt County’s Early Childhood Council, First Impressions, spearheaded bringing a diverse group of community members together over 5 months to work on a plan for early childhood in Routt County. The purpose of this process, facilitated by the First Impressions Early Childhood Council, is to create a comprehensive early childhood community plan to identify needs and work on solutions for early childhood in Routt County.
This is not a plan created by a group of outside consultants, but a plan that reflects the people of Routt County. Through this process, we received input from more than 300 community members and compiled their thoughts into meaningful documentation of the challenges and opportunities related to early childhood in Routt County.
Several challenges emerged as the following themes:
1. We have a significant shortage of child care capacity for children from birth to age 2.
2. Cost is a barrier for families.
3. Families do not have options for a non-standard work schedule or children with significant medical or behavioral needs.
4. Child care is a barrier for employers in recruiting and retaining employees.
5. Maintaining a high-quality, early childhood workforce is a significant barrier to increasing capacity.
6. Many factors related to a healthy community are intertwined with early childhood — mental health, poverty, housing needs, health care, legal services, food insecurity, etc.
Indicators of success
This planning process is just the beginning. The challenges identified are big and complex, and we are committed to tackling them. We have identified several indicators of success — specific metrics related to these indicators will be created over the next several months.
1. Increased supply of infant and toddler care for children from birth to age 3.
2. Pipeline and set of strategies for recruiting and retaining a high-quality, early childhood workforce.
3. Children are ready for school by the time they enter kindergarten — and we have a shared definition of what this means.
4. Increased level of service for gap groups — those who do not qualify for services under current definitions but still have demonstrated needs.
5. Families have access to community health and human services, especially early in a child’s life.
6. Community understands the important impacts of early childhood care and education.
7. Employers support early childhood care and education for their employees and community-wide.
8. Families have affordable options that fit their needs.
9. Access to services is equitable for all members of the community.
The path forward
Early childhood education providers, elected officials, business representatives, parents, specialized service providers, immigrant services representatives, public school representatives, funders and other community leaders are involved in this work and committed to moving it forward. We are moving forward with action steps for the following priority solutions.
1. Increase slots available for infant and toddler care in Routt County.
2. Recruit and retain a high-quality, early childhood workforce.
3. Increase access to specialized service providers.
4. Engage with the community to increase understanding of the 5. critical roles of early childhood education and care.
5. Partner with employers to support early childhood education and care.
This early childhood community plan is not the end. It is the beginning. And we look forward to updating and engaging with the community on this work as we move forward.
Primary Role of Program in Early Childhood Systems:
Outcome-Based Activities The Program/Initiative Provides:
Family engagement and leadership opportunities exist within programs, schools and communities
View more programs in Families as Leaders
Family friendly policies and practices exist in the workplace
View more programs in Family Friendly Workplace Policies
Families advocate for high quality comprehensive services and supports that lead to future success
View more programs in Families as Advocates
Education, employment, housing, financial and legal supports contribute to family economic security
View more programs in Family Economic Security
Families, including those with high needs, experience timely and coordinated services and supports
View more programs in Coordinated Specialized Services/Supports
Program evaluates effectiveness of activities and services:
First Impressions of Routt County
135 6th Street
PO Box 772790
Steamboat Springs, Colorado 80477