Kids First donates computers to child-care groups
Child-care provider Susan Mountjoy is elated with her new computer system.Mountjoy, who runs the Cabin Creek School in New Castle, said her child-care center’s refurbished Compac Desk Pro is lightning fast and efficient – and it didn’t cost her a dime.”It’s like getting a late Christmas present,” she said. “I’m so excited to have it.”Lee Martin, referral specialist at Kids First’s Glenwood Springs office, arranged for Mountjoy and 43 other child-care providers from Aspen to Parachute to receive refurbished computers through a grant from the Jared Polis Foundation, an education organization that funds education programs in Colorado. Martin distributed the machines to providers on June 25 after picking them up from the foundation’s warehouse in Boulder. Martin said she contacted more than 100 licensed child-care providers – both commercial child-care centers and in-home services – to determine the need for computers. In many cases, providers already had computers but wanted to upgrade their systems. For others, the Polis Foundation computers signified the first time the providers had ever used computers in their businesses.For Mountjoy, her refurbished Compaq was not something she planned to receive but is grateful to have.”My old computer was really a dinosaur,” she said. “It was so slow, I could log on to Hotmail, go get a glass of water, come back and it still wasn’t up and running.” Cabin Creek’s new and improved computer, like all the refurbished models, comes with a Pentium II processor, modem, Internet and e-mail capability, Windows 2000, and word processing and spreadsheet applications. “The process was very fast,” Martin said of the quick response she received from providers interested in receiving better computers – and in some cases, computers for the first time – and the Polis Foundation’s willingness to provide the refurbished machines.Martin said Kids First’s intention in distributing the computers to regional providers was to provide better child-care service to the children and families in their care.In order to receive the computers, providers had to agree to sign up for monthly Internet service, provide Kids First with an e-mail address and agree to receive e-mails from the child-care referral organization. Additionally, providers had to agree not to allow children’s use of the computers.”These computers aren’t for games,” said Martin. “Our goal is to raise the professionalism of these providers.”Martin said the computers might come in handy for providers looking for answers to common child-care questions, such as discipline problems.”Providers can e-mail me and get a quick answer on a discipline issue,” she said.At-home providers should especially benefit from the computers, Martin said.”Providers working out of the home can begin to feel isolated,” she explained. “It’s great for them being able to access our Web site and staff, and other providers in the area.”Martin also said Kids First has scheduled computer training sessions for a new child-care ledger and bookkeeping template developed locally.Mountjoy, who wasn’t budgeting for a new computer, is grateful for the grant.”I’m so thankful for all the people who made these computers possible,” she said. Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. email@example.comWhat does Kids First do? Kids First Child Care Resource Center, which provides early childhood education resource information from Aspen to Parachute, is headquartered in Aspen and funded by the city of Aspen. Its Glenwood Springs satellite office, funded by the Aspen Valley Community Foundation, opened last October. Kids First ServicesChild Care Providers:• Helps build enrollment in local child-care programs through parent referrals.• Keeps providers informed on continuing education opportunities throughout the state of Colorado through the Colorado Office of Resource and Referral Agencies’ Web site at http://www.corra.org.• Offers a lending library and access to a resource van for their programs.• Provides financial assistance through updates on local, state and federal grants. Parents: • Provides consumer education and existing options for licensed child-care from Aspen to Parachute to Vail. • Educates parents on quality environments and the true cost of child care.• Provides information on local early childhood parenting classes.Community:• Works to develop awareness of the importance of early childhood education. • Facilitates community partnerships around early child-care issues.• Coordinates advocacy and public awareness efforts involving early child-care and education.For more information, contact Lee Martin, Kids First Child Care Resource Center, 401 23rd St., Suite 207, Glenwood Springs, 970-928-7111
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