Rangely child care in danger of closing its doors over funds

RANGELY I In a small town, licensed daycare options for working parents can often be limited. Unfortunately for Rangely, if the financial situation at the non-profit Giant Step Preschool and Child Care Center doesn’t change, those resources could become even more challenging for parents.

“Our current financial position is dire,” said Giant Step director Ingrid Reed. “We operate on a shoestring. Tuition covers basic needs such as electricity, phone and most food costs, but we are having problems coming up with larger amounts needed for insurances, playground bark, carpet cleanings, taxes and such.
“In years past, we were able to request donations from local businesses and apply for grants,” Reed said. “Local businesses are struggling themselves and only small donations are coming in. The process of receiving grants has become very competitive, and an organization struggling to stay open is sometimes considered a ‘sinking ship.’
“If Giant Step does not receive a sizable grant or donation, we will not be able to afford to pay upcoming mandated bills,” Reed said. “We must carry insurance, the playground must have a predetermined depth of bark, workman’s comp must be paid and a consultant nurse must be on hand (yearly fee), pest control, and the list goes on.
“Without income that can go towards the required expenses, G.S. will not be able to stay open as a business,” she said.
Self-employed parent Beth Wiley has used Giant Step for five years and is hopeful that the financial situation will turn around.
“It would be really sad for the community if they were to close,” Wiley said. “Having that kind of facility available to our community is great.”
Financial concerns are not new to Giant Step.
According to Reed, full time tuition rates were raised from $35 to $40 in 2012, but Reed doesn’t believe another increase is likely.
“People still complain about that increase,” she said. “The board of directors and myself have discussed a rate raise, but we do not think that we can at this time.”
Despite the concerns over cost, Reed believes that their current rates are fair.
“Compared to Grand Junction, however, we are very compatible in our rates,” she said. “Some centers run a little higher, some a little lower, most charge regardless if your child attends or not, taking the prearranged days in consideration.
“We don’t charge for missed days as long as the parents contact us and let us know what is going on,” Reed said. “We have a registration fee, and a ‘No show, No call’ fee if nobody contacts us in a courteous time frame. One reason for this fee is that we order the children’s lunches from Giovanni’s and must know how many. The lunches cost us $3.25 a child. The tuition includes breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack.”
Wiley said she feels the cost is well worth it.
“The environment is geared towards children and enrichment,” she said. “The kids have a great time learning, and not just their letters but so much more. My kids still ask to go after school.” Wiley said she believes that participation in the preschool program also helped prepare her two boys to attend the preschool program at the public school.
“They were introduced to routines different from what they experience at home daily,” she said. “It really helped them become more flexible.”
The preschool portion of Giant Step’s services utilizes Creative Curriculum, which is designed for children ages 3-5 and is aligned to Colorado State Standards. It aims to teach children how to learn, not just in preschool, but throughout their lives.
According to Giant Step’s website, the focus of the curriculum is how to get along well with others and to become independent, self-confident learners. The environment is designed to enhance the four areas of development: emotional, social, academic and physical skills.
Giant Step has a long history in Rangely, first opening in 1980 at St. Ignatius Church. In 1997, they purchased the old Masons building and updated it into today’s Giant Step. They are now classified as a “small center” and can care for up to 15 children ages 2-12 at one time.
Reed says that most days Giant Step sees between 7 and 15 kids with many attending before or after school. However, Fridays are much slower, when the center averages four kids.
Fortunately, there is a plan to try and increase Friday attendance.
Giant Step recently debuted “Friday Fun Days,” when they charge a discounted daily rate of $30 per child. The next Fun Day is Dec. 18.
The staff has planned special activities such as crafts, baking and treasure hunts for the kids. The hope is that parents will use the child care service while accomplishing their holiday errands and then reuse the service later.
Reed and Wiley believe that the services provided by Giant Step are vital to Rangely.
“As a community, Rangely needs to be attractive to potential citizens,” Reed said.”Any young couple with children planning to move to Rangely will definitely check out schools and child care facilities.”
For those interested in trying to keep Giant Step around, they are always accepting donations. For those enthusiastic, committed individuals who want to have an even larger impact there are currently openings on their center’s board of directors.
“The staff at Giant Step truly cares for and is committed to the kids,” Wiley said. “My kids have developed relationships with the amazing staff and love when they get to attend Giant Step.”