Parachute’s first family organizes nonprofit day care for up to 90 kids
PARACHUTE, Colorado – Roy and Carol McClung dream big.The Parachute mayor and his wife knew that they needed to do something to help out their town when Garfield County School District 16 decided to end operations of the Mount Callahan Day Care Program.The closure of that particular program, which had enrolled upwards of 70 kids under the age of 12, left many parents without a day-care option in the small western community.That’s when the McClungs took charge.”When the district announced the closing of the existing facility in March we had talked about the negative impacts on the community,” Roy McClung said. “Carol decided that not having any sort of day care was unacceptable.”Somewhere between the crisis and the McClungs’ dreams, they came up with the idea of Kids Promise Day Care, a nonprofit day-care facility in Battlement Mesa at the Crown Peak Baptist Church that could potentially care for up to 90 kids, according to McClung.”We don’t have the staff for all that right now,” McClung said.But they are hoping to get there quickly.Monday was the first day the day care opened, not missing a beat after Mount Callahan closed the Friday before.The McClungs had help from many people in the community and have partnered with their neighbors, Ryan and Leah Frink, according to McClung. Currently, the day care has about six employees and falls under the Grand Valley Education Foundation, a separate local nonprofit. However, McClung said that Kids Promise has filed for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, and he expects to have that by the end of the year, at which time Kids Promise will be all on its own.”In 45 days, there was a lot of things we couldn’t get to,” McClung said. “But we wanted to open as quickly as we could after Mount Callahan closed.”McClung said that the day care situation in Parachute is still in a critical situation, but not having anything other than a few home-operated day care options just wasn’t viable.Mount Callahan provided parents day care since 2002, when construction of the new Grand Valley High School was complete and the district received grants to renovate the old high school facility to house programs such as Head Start and preschool classes. At that time, Mount Callahan was contracted out to a private party with the district renting the space for $100 a month.The district did take over operations of the program in July 2007, after then-director Amber Scott resigned. The district decided to keep the day care open until the new Center for Family Learning is complete in the fall of 2008, but closed it due to insufficient funding, said then-District 16 superintendent Steve McKee.According to Garfield County Department of Human Services Childcare Program Manager Dana Damm, Parachute and Battlement Mesa had only six home-care providers in March, most of which were licensed for only six kids up to age 6 during the day, plus two additional school-aged students before and after school hours.Kids Promise is a good start to providing some kind of day-care option for residents, but it’s only a beginning in McClung’s eyes. He said they hope to be able to have before- and after-school programs up and running soon, plans of a private kindergarten class, and some kind of transportation for field trip opportunities for students.”It will have other purposes. This isn’t going to be one of those day cares where you drop off your kids and they sit in front of the television all day,” Roy said. “We are going to dream big. That way, even if we fall short it’s a good thing.”Contact John Gardner: firstname.lastname@example.orgPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
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