Alliance aims to improve education for Boyle’s youngest residents

Published 6:27 pm Monday, March 25, 2019


Guest columnist

As members of the Danville-Boyle Early Childhood Alliance (DBECA) we are dedicated to supporting and advancing early childhood care and education, seeing it as a community-wide, necessary investment.

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One year ago, the Economic Development Partnership (EDP) sparked a task force’s creation to investigate the capacity and quality of early childhood services in our community.

With the EDP serving as the original catalyst, we have pressed this issue forward with stakeholders by attending town hall meetings; requesting feedback from care providers, educators, parents and employers; and forging partnerships to capitalize on local resources. Additionally, we’ve conducted extensive research, presenting it to garner support and build awareness. We’ve advocated in the spirit of strengthening the quality of life in our community.

The taskforce has evolved into an alliance, inviting individuals and organizations to join as allies to support this continued work. High-quality care that promotes early childhood development and school readiness for kids from birth to age five is foundational for maintaining our workforce and supporting families, now and in the future.

There are several childcare providers in our community doing excellent work, and we truly recognize that. We are thankful for you! We want to support these providers and ensure they have what they need to be successful. To be fairly compensated and recognized in their vital work to care for our youngest citizens is a DBECA priority. We aim to help them achieve their goals — expanded facility capacity to serve more children and/or increased resources.

The stark reality is that we fall below the national standard of one childcare slot for every three children. There are about 980 children ages 0-2 living here and only about 200 full-time childcare slots available. Waiting lists are long and parents often have to send their children out-of-county to receive care in order to maintain employment. We have to change the landscape for our citizens to solve an immediate need to support young families in our current workforce and set ourselves up for future sustainability.

Each dollar invested in high-quality early learning programs returns up to $17 in the future. This goes toward enriching our future workforce, decreasing social costs, and adding value to our community’s amenities.

As a group, DBECA has laid out several recommendations. We want to bring Head Start and Early Head Start to Boyle County. Currently, Mercer County’s Head Start has 20 slots that are reserved for Boyle County kids. We have a need for our own program with more slots. In general, we desire to increase childcare capacity for ages 0-2 and to increase wrap-around services (care before or after pre-K, and in between services) to provide seamless childcare for a full workday. We aspire to improve the quality of care for all ages and develop a collaborative network of early childhood and family services. We need to bring the price of care in line with the value of services provided, so that caregivers are adequately compensated, and we want to promote continued diversity within provider settings. Lastly, we aim to strengthen the community’s understanding of early childhood development’s value.

We appreciate the coverage our efforts have received thus far and want to thank The Advocate-Messenger for the past two DBECA articles. We also want to thank the organizations that have officially endorsed our work: Boyle County Public Library, Danville Schools Education Foundation, Develop Danville (EDP), Heart of Kentucky United Way and Trinity Episcopal Church.

We are looking for more support, more seats at the table, and for our community to step up and create solutions to meet our children’s needs. We are grateful to the EDP for sparking these efforts and remaining our champion as we’ve moved from task force to alliance. We are eager to continue our momentum.

To get involved, email or visit You can also be an advocate right away by encouraging businesses and organizations (public, private and civic) to publicly endorse DBECA. You can ask KY representatives to increase funding for early childhood development initiatives; and if you’d like to donate to our efforts, please give to Wilderness Trace Community Foundation, and mark funds for “DBECA.”

Tom Poland is a leader of the Danville Boyle Early Childhood Alliance. He wrote this with fellow DBECA members Mary Beth Murray, Patten Mahler and Amy Longwill.