From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 8, Number 14 - June 26, 2008
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Pinedale Residents Collaborate On After School Solutions

by Janet Montgomery

With round-table brainstorming and a presentation by the Wyoming Afterschool Alliance (WASCA), locals gathered at Rendezvous Pointe looking for solutions to the lack of childcare after school hours.

Sublette County Community Partnership Coordinator Laurie Latta hosted the event with Laura Barton kicking off the evening with information about the WASCA.

Burton is the executive director of the statewide program, for which the state received a grant to become a formal afterschool network.

“The work you are doing here is critical,” Barton said of the evening’s discussions. “This is really important because it’s your kids.”

Following her presentation, peopled ivided into three groups to brainstorm and discuss three main questions: What space(s) are currently available for afterschool programs in Pinedale? What persons, agencies and/or organizations can and will spearhead this initiative? What funding mechanisms are available to financially support afterschool programs now and in the future in order to ensure continuity and long-term sustainability?

A flyer noted the meeting’s objective was “to leave the event with a ‘call to action’ for committee(s) or group(s) to begin working on developing an action plan” with its first goal set for September 2008.

Each group moved around three tables for discussions and idea exchange with table leaders Cat Urbigkit, Jim Roscoe and Kathy Anderson.

After the three groups spent about 30 minutes discussing posted questions, table leaders presented their summaries.

With the focus on funding mechanisms to support the program, Urbigkit said, “We ended up with quite the list.”

The first item on the list was the Sublette County Childcare Coalition.

“We already have a program in place... of finding grants and trying to put that money back in the community,” she said, “so that’s a logical thing.”

Other possibilities include energy companies and grants as well as foundations and all the nonprofits in the community.

“Including things you wouldn’t normally maybe think of like the Green River Valley Land Trust that is already doing things with kids,” Urbigkit said.

Another idea that emerged was to ask local businesses to commit to a certain number of funding or scholarships slots.

In particular the issue came up that the program must be fully funded.

“You cannot really rely on volunteers to do something that is really this big of an undertaking,” Urbigkit said. “It needs to be fully funded.”

The groups concluded the best way to do that would be with an endowment for childcare large enough for the interest to pay for operations.

“That’d be a perfect world,” Urbigkit said.

She also said from the group discussion, “We need to work toward a cultural shift toward education afterschool toward the highest quality afterschool program with a commitment and buy-in from families.”

In summary of the program, Urbigkit said: “It needs to serve as an umbrella to the existing program that we have out there in place. We have a lot of people doing a lot of great things and we need somebody to organize that so that everybody knows what’s out there and is available.”

For Roscoe, his task for the groups was to discuss persons, agencies or organizations to spearhead the initiative.

“For organizations, we came to the same sort of conclusion that Sublette County Childcare Coalition – (which) was brought

up by all three groups – that would be a great... place to start,” he said, adding the group also said Sublette County School District No. 1 should be involved.

The Children’s Discovery Center was also suggested.

As for people, Roscoe said the groups determined advertising for a position along with creating a board of volunteers to find the person to fill the role. Some specific names also came from the discussion.

Charged with the space question, Anderson said of the groups, “We defined ‘available’ as not being used whether it be short-term or long-term.”

Anderson said a number of spaces might be available for an afterschool program around town, with the former Pinedale Bible Church emerging as a favorite along with unused rooms or space at the Sublette County Library, Sublette County IceArena, Pinedale Aquatic Center, churches, parks, Rendezvous Pointe, Museum of the Mountain Man, Bureau of Land Management building and the movie theater as well as the Daniel and Boulder Community Centers.

The second group talked about how to make it happen and how to measure, she added, “So that we’ll know in a year that we’ve actually made some progress.”

The group determined forms of measure could include counting on parents to get involved, securing space, designing a business plan with a definition of responsibilities and getting school board members involved.

“The last question, which was the three most important things, creating a planning group, finding a paid coordinator and finding money,” Anderson said.

At the conclusion, Latta announced signup sheets were posted for people to signup in each of the three areas discussed. The next meeting of the childcare coalition is set for June 30.

“This issue is not a new issue,” Latta said. “My oldest son is in his mid 20s and this was an issue back when he was a little kid too.”

Latta said it is a perpetual problem parents grow out of as their children grow up.

“As soon as you grow out of it, you don’t worry about it any more,” she said, “and we don’t send the information back to generations of kids coming up. I think it’s time that we really try to change that.” She said those who have dealt with the issue before can offer an opportunity to those coming up tomake a difference in our children’s lives and in this community. “Think about making a commitment,” Latta said. “I need your vision and your ideas.”

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