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Help find oases in the Boyle County child care desert

By PHIL OSBORNE

Danville Schools Education Foundation

At the risk of being redundant, I can’t let the events of last week go without additional comment on how important each was for the future of Danville and Boyle County.

Most recently, representatives of the Danville-Boyle County Early Childhood Alliance (DBECA) presented findings from its white paper on pre-school child care to the board of the Economic Development Partnership (Develop Danville). The discussion recounted statistics that have been cited here previously, including the fact that more than half of all Boyle County children are not kindergarten ready when they enter school.

Why is that important to an economic development group? Because the generation of workers new companies need tomorrow are the children in preschool today. Workforce development and career readiness are inextricably connected to a child’s ability to learn — hard skills and soft skills.

Following the presentation, the Develop Danville board voted to sign on to a growing list of individuals and organizations supporting the recommendations from the Alliance, which distilled to a couple of key points are increasing capacity and quality. Those who have signed on thus far include: Tom Poland; Andrea Craft, Danville Schools; Danville Schools Education Foundation and Alumni Association; Mort Hoagland; Mike LaFavers; Amy Longwill; Patten Priestley Mahler; Susan Matherly; The Rev. Amy Dafler Meaux; Trinity Episcopal Church; and Mary Beth Ballard Murray.

You can lend your support as well. Contact Amy Longwell at Heart of Kentucky United Way, or drop me a note at the email below.

The second related event happened last Monday when the Danville School Board authorized adding a fourth preschool class to the district, which will create enough new seats to serve 160 students in total. The difference in this classroom is that some positions (20) will be open to serve tuition-based families in addition to the at-risk children who will continue to be served.

There are more than 1,700 children in the county ages 0-5. This is a small but significant step in the right direction. As a community, we can continue to make major progress toward finding other oases in the child care desert, but it will take a commitment of time, talent, and resources.

I ran into a friend at the grocery recently, and she reminded me that the money already exists to make a difference regarding so many social issues, it’s just still in your pocket. You can make that difference. Right now, it won’t even cost you a dime. Just lend your name and support to the work of the DBECA (www.dbeca.org). Do your own homework by reviewing the Alliance’s white paper: bit.ly/DBECAwhitepaper.

Contact Amy or me to let your voice be heard in support of eradicating the child care issues that confront our community each and every day. And remember, when the time does come to make a monetary investment in early childhood development, the dollar you spend today will return up to $17 in the future.

As always, go Ads!

Phil Osborne is executive director of the Danville Schools Education Foundation. Email him with questions about the foundation at posborne@danvilleschoolsfoundation.org.