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The Clear Creek School District has been awarded a $200,000 grant to help the county move toward opening an early child care center.
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The center is an effort by the school district, Clear Creek County and the Clear Creek Metropolitan Recreation District to create at least 66 spots for youngsters in early 2024. The Community Innovation and Resilience for Care and Learning Equity, or CIRCLE Grant, will help train people to provide child care, and help create business practices for the center and child-care providers.
The group spearheading the child-care center effort is looking at locations for the child care center and is hoping there will be room for it in the former middle school.
The CIRCLE program was developed to try to address the systemic lack of child care, according to Mitch Houston, executive director of the Clear Creek Schools Foundation, which help write and will administer the grant.
The money will be used ultimately to increase access to child care for infants and toddlers in Clear Creek County, prepare a workforce to work in child care jobs with the hopes that some will stay to work in the new child care center and develop best business practices for the new center, Houston explained.
The money will be used in part to hire an early child-care coach, who will design career pathways for students and adults to get early childhood education certifications.
“The early child-care coach will be looking for ways to support developing a workforce of early care providers to address what they need to be a licensed provider: teachers, assistant teachers, in-home care providers,” said Becky Dancer, the district’s director of teaching and learning. “This person will help with workforce development and have conversations with people about how they go about accessing classes.”
In addition, that person will support developing an early child-care education career pathway for both CCSD students and adults interested in such a career, Dancer said. She noted with free preschool for all students coming in fall 2023, the district will need additional teachers.
“Workforce preparation was one of the main parts we focused on in the grant application,” Dancer explained.
The money will also pay for a business coordinator, who will create a best-practices document after visiting five other early child-care centers with high quality ratings of similar size to Clear Creek.
“Whether a children care center or in-home child care, having solid business practices is a huge thing,” Dancer said. “You need to know what kind of business approach you have to take to be successful.”
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