There is support for having a licensed day care facility in Nevada, and there are people willing to continue exploring the idea.
A group of about 25 people, including members of the Nevada Economic Development Council (NEDC), Nevada Chamber, Nevada schools, in-home day care providers and parents, met last week to discuss the possibility of bringing such a facility to Nevada.
An NEDC committee has been studying this issue for awhile now, because the types of companies that Nevada is attracting to the community will bring more families and more children to town.
"One thing that keeps rising to the surface (during visits with people in these companies)," said LaVon Schiltz, director of the NEDC, "is do we have a state-certified child care facility?"
Because the question has been asked, Schiltz said the NEDC has been trying to gather information and input to see what kind of interest and support there is for developing this type of facility.
The biggest thing that Al Kochler, a member of the NEDC committee, wanted to emphasize to the child care providers who were in attendance at last week’s meeting is that "no way is this (endeavor) to put anybody out of business. It’s to help people," he said.
It is estimated by the committee that there are about 40-50 in-home day care providers in the community, but because there are many "unregistered" care providers, it’s hard to get an exact count.
To try to get a more accurate picture of the present day care situation, a survey is being prepared to go out with the city newsletter. The committee encourages people to participate in this survey.
No matter what the numbers show about how many day care providers there are, last week’s meeting indicated that there is a need and support for a state-licensed center to be established here.
One Nevada mother who works right here in the community, shared her story about how she makes a 40-minute round trip to west Ames twice a day to be sure that her two youngest daughters are in a registered child care setting during the week.
Meagan Ausborn-Henderson said that when she and her husband lived in Gilbert, there was a fantastic child care center where they took their children. "In our experience, it was clean, structured and loving," she said. When they came to Nevada, Ausborn-Henderson said they looked at a number of in-home providers, but the ones they felt most comfortable with were full, and with three children at the time, "we found it hard for anyone to be able to accomodate that."
In-home providers in attendance at the meeting were among those providers who rarely have openings. And Amy Coogler, a former in-home child care provider who now operates Lil’ Cubs Preschool, said the people who have been providing in-home care for a long time are going to have no issues at all staying full. "There are a lot of people I know who have been doing it forever, and they’re always full," said Coogler, who at one time started an in-home child care providers’ association in Nevada with about 20 members; the group disbanded after Coogler became busy with her preschool.
Coogler and another child care provider in attendance admitted that they had both become involved in providing day care when they couldn’t find the kind of child care they wanted in Nevada.
Chris Burling, director of the Nevada Community Resource Center, which can accomodate children age 4 through sixth grade, said she often is referring parents of younger children to other care providers. She said what she appreciates about Nevada is that there is a very shared sense of trying to help everyone find what they need for their kids.
Members of the NEDC committee feel that building a child care facility will provide another option to people who need to find the right child care for their children. "We just want to enrich our community and have different options available," said Jennifer Clem Smith, a member of the committee.
Laura West, another committee member, agreed, and noted that different people want different things from providers. While many parents are looking for that in-home experience for their kids, others are more comfortable with a licensed center. "I think it’s important to give options to consumers … and we think it will make Nevada more attractive," West said.
Lynn Scarlett, director of the Nevada Chamber of Commerce, wanted to share that one Nevada child care provider did stop in her office to state that she was not in favor of the community pursuing a licensed facility. That provider, Scarlett said, was not in attendance at the meeting.
Bernie Stephenson, a committee member, said the purpose the meeting was partly to give people a chance to express their opposition to such a plan. "We wanted to hear if there was opposition to us investigating this possibility; we were certainly open to listening to that and we would be very respectful of that," he said. "We didn’t know how to find that out without listening." But Stephenson said after hearing the comments that were made at the meeting, he thinks the committee is prepared to now take the next steps in looking at the issue.
The NEDC offered the opportunity to those in attendance to join their committee as they continue to look at bringing a child care facility to Nevada. Several did sign up to start working with the committee, which will continue meeting and will soon be putting out the survey that residents can take part in.