Building Better Futures for All Children

Early childhood educators and programs celebrate the Week of the Young Child to highlight the importance of quality care and education for young children.  WOYC is an annual opportunity to reach out to families and communities, reminding us all of the vital role we play in giving children the foundation needed to succeed in school and beyond.  (Journal of the NAEYC, Young Children, Nov 2006)

The theme for this years event is “Building Better Futures for All Children” and is scheduled for April 22-28, 2007. 

We should put together a fun and educational day/evening during that week for the community to see that early education is a good investment!   (A good follow-up to “Going Forward, You Bet!”)

As we did last year, we will hold a Pajama Party and Pancake Breakfast at the Montrose American Legion with games and raffles.   The date for the breakfast is scheduled for Saturday April 28, 2007.

Going Forward! You Bet!

We have come together and now I feel we are falling apart?!

Why?  We lost site of this blogs purpose!  Joe started something good- let’s keep it that way!  Going forward should be our purpose!

Together, we need to remember the real issue before us- the importance of child care.  If  those of us who feel child care is pertinent to the growth of Montrose, then we need to do something about it!  Discussion only goes so far.  I believe that is what the community is telling us.  So, let’s move on!

The petition was rejected!  Yea!  But, do we want people questioning the day care every year, month, day?  Let’s get a community meeting scheduled so we can find out the facts of their concerns, address them, and find a solution (as Joe recommended).   Then act on those solutions!

An interesting quote I found speaks for itself.

       To laugh often, to win the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false freinds, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.  This is to have succeeded!          -Emerson

 To leave the world a bit better means we might need to get involved to benefit our families, our community, and ourselves! 

Enter a post if you are interested in getting involved in a constructive meeting to move forward!

 posted by April

Petition rejected

Just returned from the special City Council meeting held tonight at the City’s finance office. The meeting lasted all of five minutes. To make a short story shorter, the City’s attorney provided his opinion that the petition that was filed, attempting to refer a line item of the city’s budget pertaining to daycare, should be rejected. And that is exactly what the Council did. Following the council’s rejection of the petition, the Petition Filer announced that she will not sue the City or carry this any further.

In a nutshell, there will be no election. (Hooray!)

I asked the Council to consider holding a community gathering sometime in the near future where a dialogue about the daycare could take place. If there is a better way to do this, then let’s all figure it out together and let’s do it.

Comments are always open!

Finding a solution

I created this blog because I hoped it would be part of a solution. Our community daycare isn’t perfect. It is, though, very important to this little village we call home. I’ve said it in other places on this site–my wife and I don’t care if we, personally, lose our daycare service in it’s current form. We have other options. I have put hours and hours of my volunteer time into this project because I know child care is so important to our community’s future. I also recognize this relationship between the City and the School and the community as something really special.

This blog, I hope, will create a dialogue that has not been available before. Talking to each other, right in front of each other, about this issue IS the solution. Fighting about it and spreading misimformation (from both sides) and keeping the discussion in camps and filing petitions is NOT a solution. Neither “side” is right, and neither is wrong. We will never “solve” this, or anything else, unless we all are willing to enter a discussion with an open mind. None of us can learn anything by telling–we have to listen. We each need to enter this conversation with the possiblity that we might learn something that will change our opinion or worldview. If not, we’re all wasting breath.

I’ve said it before–dialogue, not legal fights, is the only solution that will fix this issue. An election will fix nothing–it just means that some people will win and some will lose. It won’t change anybody’s mindset. Open conversation is the only path to a solution.

City Council Meeting update

Here’s a quick recap of the info from last night’s City Council Meeting (at least the stuff about the budget petition, anyway):

  • The petition that was filed is valid, with at least the required 19 (18.2, actually) valid signatures.
  • The City is holding a special meeting to decide its next step on next Tuesday at 7pm.
  • There is a possibility, according to City Attorney Lammers, that the referendum would not be legal because the Daycare was created by an Administrative Decision way back when and should have been referred then. The budget line is just carrying out that administrative decision from some years ago. (The attorney will be working out the legal mumbo-jumbo this week).
  • If the City Council decides Lammers is right, they may reject the referendum as illegal. This would put the ball back in the Petition Circulator’s court. She would have the option of suing (at her own expense) the City and asking the court to rule Lammers’ opinion incorrect and force an election. Under this scenario, if The Circulator doesn’t sue the City, this whole mess would be dropped. If she does, the City would have even more legal expenses defending itself in court.
  • If the City (or Lammers) decides the referendum would not be illegal, then they will schedule a special election for late November or early December.
  • Which ever way this pendulum swings, the City Council has ten days from yesterday to make a decision and either schedule an election or reject the referendum.

This is my take. Anyone with another (better) explanation, please jump into the fray by posting it in the comments!

More “child care is economic development”

South Dakota Rural Enterprise creates new program to develop daycares.

“(Beth) Davis said, ‘Quality childcare is essential to any community realizing its dreams for the future.’”

The Community Development Society published this “Articulating the Economic Importance of Child Care for Community Development” report in Summer, 2006.

“The Cornell Linking Economic Development and Child Care project has used the symbol of the three petals of a trillium flower to represent the three most distinctive dimensions of the economic importance of child care: its implications for child development, parental labor force mobilization, and regional economic development. ”

“..the impacts on children cannot be segregated from the welfare of parents; the impacts on parents cannot be divorced from the health of the economy in which they live; and the health and sustainability of the economy cannot be separated from the prospects for its children. “

I also updated the Quick Facts page with the latest available numbers from the City of Montrose.

From the Circulator

updated 10/12/06: I broke my own rule when I posted this a couple days ago. I’ve crossed out the bad stuff and only left the factual info. I was mad when I typed it, and shouldn’t have. No more he said/she said, OK? Bad me. Very bad…

I’ve heard from three sources now (people who were visited at their front door by The Petition Circulator over the weekend) that the main message was basically ‘the City is spending lots of money on the daycare and it’s bad for our taxpayers. We’re going to spend $78,000 this year on it.’

Well, as usual, this is only half truth. The City’s budget is a little over $78,000, but that is just expenses. The Circulator conveniently forgot to mention the Revenue that will mostly (if not totally) cover the expenses for the year. As of Sept. 30, the City has spent a net of $618. That projects to a total net expenditure of $824 for the entire year of 2006 (and City staff say the Daycare could break even or better by December).

Just thought you might want to know…

Comments are always open!

The Petition is Filed

Word from City Hall is that Melanie Fiferlick filed a petition for referendum today with 48 signatures on it. The petition, if valid, would force the City to hold an election on a line item veto of the Daycare budget for 2007. If passed the referendum would, according to City staff, close the Montrose Community Daycare as we know it, effective January 1, 2007. The City would no longer be able to accept revenue or pay any expenses, and all 8 employees would lose their jobs as of that date.

There is a regular City Council meeting tonight at 7pm. Pat Waechter is on the agenda to ask questions about the daycare, and Carol Flickinger (City Finance Officer) will discuss the petition during her report.

I am working now to update the impact numbers as of Sept. 30. The Daycare has cost the City a net of $618 for this year so far. For the month of September, the Daycare has a net income of $1041.

“Childcare is Economic Development” Research

I just ran across this story in the Ft. Wayne (Indiana) Journal Gazette about a movement there to look at the impact of childcare on local economic development. Here’s a short excerpt:

“Quality child care is an important and often overlooked tool for spurring economic development, economist Morton Marcus said Monday in a speech at the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce…

The report concludes that child care has benefits much further reaching than simply the parents of the child. Businesses benefit because parents are more productive when they know their children are cared for and safe. Child care could also be a selling point to attract young, skilled workers to the region. And children also benefit because research shows they perform better in school when they have received quality care during the first six years.”

Here’s a link to Cornell University’s database of Childcare Economic Impact Studies.

Here is a link to a report by the Upjohn Institute on the economic impact of strong preschool.

Comments are open!

Is the Daycare a Business?

Well, no. It’s not. A business is an entity that exists to make money. They are here to turn a profit. Sure, some people start a business because it’s a dream or to keep a family tradition going or some other reason–but at the end of the day, it really comes down to “are we making money, or losing it?” I’ve coached a lot of business owners in my work, and have studied entrepreneurship’s best practices my entire adult life (I also run a profitable consulting business of my own). Sometimes when I coach a struggling business, we find something that is broken and fix it, turning that business around. Sometimes after trying a lot of things, we find that maybe the business model just won’t work. Wrong location, wrong customer base, wrong idea, wrong owner. It can be a lot of things. Then, after trying everything we can think of, I might tell that business owner that if I were in her or his shoes, I’d probably close up shop instead of continuing to lose money. It’s the truth–it’s what I would do.

Daycare is a different story. It’s very rarely a profitable idea, and there are few people willing to take the risk of starting a private daycare. As a coach, I’d advise someone looking to start a daycare to tread pretty lightly–to dig deep into her soul (and savings account) to be sure she was up to a potential heartbreak. It’s a labor of love, or a bankruptcy. I’d tell the same thing to anyone looking to start a for-profit swimming pool, or a softball park, or a community center. These are all services that are important for a community, but wouldn’t be provided at all if left to private businesses. That’s what  government is for–to provide services that the people need or want, but aren’t profitable enough to entice an entrepreneur to provide them.

Daycare is one of those services. I’m not saying a daycare owned and operated by the City is the only answer–or even the absolute best answer. But it is an answer for us in our little village in the valley. Without it, young families would look elsewhere, teachers and young couples would pass over Montrose as an option, and a significant economic impact would be lost (whatever that number is).  The biggest thing to go, in my mind, would be the unique partnership we’ve formed between the City and the school. I travel small communities all across the northern great plains. Trust me–what we have is special. In most towns I study, the City and School don’t even talk to each other about the future of the community, let alone partner financially to make a better one.

Comments are open–spark a conversation.