Early childhood foundation forms

Posted: Thursday, March 26, 2009

Advocates for a Kenai Peninsula Early Childhood Foundation are seeking public awareness.

Representing licensed child care providers, day care facilities and preschools, the non-profit foundation would provide training and other assistance to those providing high-quality early learning experiences for all children, according to Lauralee Peterson, who recently addressed the Soldotna City Council.

"We're looking for community dollars on the project," Peterson told the council members.

The foundation aims to provide new training opportunities, assistance with program improvement and development, equipment and materials, career advancement, conferences and retreats and resources and support.

This week, Peterson said a number of the grant sources from which the foundation is seeking funding like to see community support before awarding any grants.

So far, the foundation, which is operating under the umbrella of Bridges Community Resource Network, has reached out to the local business community in Soldotna and Kenai, both through direct mail and walk-in visits, according to Peterson.

She said the need for funds is especially keen now in light of new state regulations that will require licensed providers to complete 120 hours of training in order to attain child development associate certification. The current requirement is 20 hours of training.

Peterson, who is an early childhood consultant, educator and grant writer, said hundreds of providers on the Kenai Peninsula will be impacted by the change expected to go into effect in the next couple of years.

In a letter of introduction provided to the Soldotna council, Peterson said the Anchorage early childhood resource and referral agency is the closest link to assist with peninsula providers' needs "and the peninsula often is overlooked regarding resources and funding.

"Geographically, it is very difficult for those working in the field to travel that far to further their education, attend a conference, build on their careers ...," she said.

People wishing to contribute to the new foundation may call Peterson at 252-9539.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@peninsulaclarion.com.

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