OP-ED: Condon ELC to discuss after school care with community on Sept. 7 Zoom call

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By the Condon Early Learning Child Center

On Friday August 13,2021 a discussion regarding the need for afterschool age care was initiated on Facebook.

After reading through all the comments and questions in the post, it became apparent that our community needs more information about the Condon Early Learning Center (ELC) and our decision to no longer offer school age care.

The Condon ELC invites the public to join our next board meeting by Zoom or telephone on Tuesday, September 7 at 5:30 PM. To join, follow this link.

History of After School Care

Condon Early Learning Center has offered after school care, Friday care and summer care for school age children for many years. In the past the center mixed preschool and school age children together in the same classroom.  By licensing regulations this is only allowed for the last 45 minutes of the day, making it necessary to open and staff a third classroom. Our “classroom” has been minimally accomplished by converting our cafeteria into a very small classroom space. We are limited to the number of children we can have in a classroom based on square footage. Our capacity is 8 children, 1/2 of those spots occupied by teachers’ children, which is the only way we can operate the third room. Our school age enrollment has been low the past 2 years as well as the charge for the cost of care. Together with the board it has been determined that the cost to keep the program is not sustainable. It would cost more to pay the teacher than we would be charging. We understand the extreme need for childcare of all ages and this decision did not come without thought regarding impact to families and community members.

Mission and building capacity

Condon Early Learning Center is the only certified center in the tri-county area that offers fulltime care M-F for children Age 3-5. It is our mission to provide quality early learning opportunities and wrap care for these children.

The building was designed specifically with birth to five in mind. We are operating within the intended purpose of the design. Everything in the building from the furniture to the toilets and sinks, materials and play structure are all designed for children under the age of 5. We are not equipped to meet the needs of school age children and we are not funded for that age group as well.  Any grants that we qualify for are to serve the under 5 age group. We understand that change is difficult, especially when things have been done one way for so long.  Sacrificing quality care and a quality work environment are not an option for the Condon Early Learning Center.

Statewide childcare crisis

We are in a childcare crisis.  Not just in our county but all over the state. A 2020 study from Oregon State University found that all 36 counties in Oregon are “child care deserts.” Researchers defined “child care desert” as 3 children for one available childcare space. Another study from the non-profit Oregon ASK found that 200,000 Oregon children are unable to get into after school care programs.

Like other parts of Oregon, our community is in great need of another childcare option and afterschool program.  Ideally, other entities who have the necessary environment, materials and trained staff to support school aged kids.  Perhaps that should be brought into this conversation. The Early Learning Center can only do so much. The need is great, and our space is limited. There are pregnant mothers waiting for a spot in our infant toddler classroom. We would gladly take all who need care, but we are at capacity and that is the reality. 

Join us on Zoom or Call-in on Sept. 7

We are thankful for all the time, hard work and dedication that has been put toward making this early learning program possible and we do not take that for granted. At the end of the day, we all only want what is best for the children, community and staff.  We have a wonderful community that is excellent at problem solving. There is no doubt that a solution will be found to serve the children and families who need support. Without your support and dedication, we would not be standing. Please join our next board meeting via zoom on September 7th where we will be open for any questions you may have. The door is always open, we value and welcome your input.

Sincerely,

Jeanine Conboy, Executive Director Condon ELC

Shannon Coppock, Interim Finance Manager

Condon ELC Board of Directors:

Cari Wade, Chair

Delaney Watkins, Vice Chair

Donna McIntosh, Director

Teddy Fennern, Director

Pat Reilley, Director

Sammi Lane, Director

Jane Cadousteau, Director

Click here to join by Zoom

Meeting ID: 997 0461 3377
Passcode: 238899

PHONE: +1 253 215 8782
   
Meeting ID: 997 0461 3377
Passcode: 238899

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