Stimulus funds expand infant childcare services | SierraSun.com

Stimulus funds expand infant childcare services

Jason ShuehSierra Sun

TRUCKEE/TAHOE andamp;#8212;In an effort to help local mothers, school district trustees unanimously approved a stimulus grant this month to provide more childcare for parents who are income eligible, graduating students, or for district employees.The Tahoe Truckee Unified School District will use the $1.152 million, to expand Sierra Continuation High School’s infant-toddler center or STEPP program (Sierra Teen Education andamp; Parenting Program).The expansion will add 12 new openings for infants and toddlers at the STEPP day care center, three new child development positions and another portable for STEPP facilities.The additional staffing and enrollment are expected to last 18 months if no additional federal funding is redirected for its support.Placer Community Action Council’s KidZKount group, donated the money to the district from a grant they received from the Obama administration’s American Recovery andamp; Reinvestment Act, a stimulus grant meant to boost the economy through community development. andamp;#8220;The biggest benefit here is for the children,andamp;#8221; said Cindy Maciel, STEPP program manager. andamp;#8220;They get to stay in a learning environment with quality childcare.andamp;#8221;Maciel said economic times have hit Tahoe families hard and especially young couples starting out. She said the grant will help young parents seeking employment or pursuing a college education.During the meeting the district board meeting, Bev Ducey, TTUSD board clerk, said she was grateful STEPP funding could be increased; however, she wanted the community to understand its temporary nature.andamp;#8220;Anytime you have grant money that’s going to go away you have to go into it with you eyes wide open,andamp;#8221; Ducey said at the meeting.She explained this means mothers enrolling their kids in one of the 12 openings need to understand the services are going to end after the two year period, unless more federal funding is found.Similarly, she said new staff hired for the three STEPP positions must understand their jobs might be eliminated if funding runs out.That said, Ducey and fellow trustees heralded the new funding as a andamp;#8220;win-winandamp;#8221; situation for everyone involved. andamp;#8220;It shows what great partners we have around the district to fulfill a need,andamp;#8221; Ducey said.Looking towards 2011, when the time funds are set to expire, Maciel hoped the federal government will continue to support the district program.andamp;#8220;The bottom line is that the National Head Start Association (a program to help low income pre-school aged children) is working on getting that funding in,andamp;#8221; she said. andamp;#8220;The PCAC has already started lobbying about rolling this program funding over into 2011 so that those kids can continue to be served.andamp;#8221;

andamp;#8226; STEPP is a district program created in 1998 to help pregnant and parenting teens with childcare and community resources.andamp;#8226; Student enrolled in the program are taught parenting and life-skill techniques through after school classes.andamp;#8226; Funding is provided through a grant from the California Department of Education, Cal-Safe.andamp;#8226; STEPP is a program affiliated with the Placer Community Action Council’s KidZKount, Early Head Start, Truckee Donner Soroptimist and other private donators.andamp;#8226; STEPP also works to educate youth about pregnancy prevention through counseling and school presentations.

THE STEPP PROGRAM was established in 1998. STEPP is a district program for pregnant and parenting teens. STEPP offers a quality child development program with an Infant/Toddler center on site at Sierra High School. Students enrolled in the STEPP Program participate in parenting and life-skill classes after their academic day.STEPP is funded through a grant provided from the California Department of Education, Cal-Safe. We are in a partnership with Placer Community Action Council (Kidz-Count), Early Head Start, Truckee Donner Soroptimist, and private donations.