Federal Funding Bill Includes $ 1 Million For Keene-Based Child Care Training | Local News

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In her 44 years at Keene Day Care Center, Suelaine Poling has seen a lot, including the cost of child care, skyrocket.

Poling, the centre’s executive director, said she had recently noticed another worrying trend: new workers are entering childcare without much, if any, formal training.

Keene Day Care Center works with these employees to keep them up to speed, she said, often assigning them a veteran member of staff as a mentor. But for those who attend daycare simply because they enjoy working with children, Poling said starting work at the center – which accommodates around 90 children in its six classrooms – can be difficult.

“It’s a bit of a different animal to go into a child care program like this,” she said.

This issue sparked a new initiative, which received $ 1 million in a federal spending bill, to provide training and other professional development opportunities for educators in the Monadnock area.

Led by Keene State College and Monadnock United Way, the proposal aims to improve worker retention in the child care industry and expand local child care options, officials at those organizations say.

Federal funding for the program – which U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, DN.H., a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced in a recent press release – is among more than $ 45 million planned for communities in New Hampshire in the bill. If enacted, this legislation would also fund sewer maintenance in Keene.

In addition to training concerns, child care groups have struggled to retain staff during the COVID-19 pandemic as other industries pay better and don’t involve working with a non-population. vaccinated, according to Deirdre McPartlin, director of Keene State’s Child Development Center.

This threatens to further limit the number of childcare options, which McPartlin called a “red flag for the economy” because it keeps parents from working.

As part of its new initiative with Monadnock United Way, Keene State – which offers a bachelor’s degree in early childhood development – would aim to increase the number of providers by hosting classes for new and current child care workers, according to McPartlin. Federal dollars could also be used for a study of child care needs in the region, including local staffing issues and affordability, and could help fund scholarships for people to take the courses. individualized training, she said.

“We all know that the basis of high quality programming is having well-trained teachers,” she said. “… Not everyone can afford a four-year program [or] is academically prepared for a four-year program, so our goal within this expansion team is really to meet the needs of our professionals and, at the same time, support them in their retention efforts so that they stay on field.

The partnership between Keene State and Monadnock United Way grew out of conversations about child care these organizations had with city authorities, the Keene Family YMCA and various child care groups, according to McPartlin and MUW president Liz LaRose.

Among the main issues on this topic, LaRose identified the affordability and lack of childcare options in the Monadnock area, where many providers have long waiting lists for enrollment. She noted that in 2016, a quarter of New Hampshire families spent more than 10 percent of their income on child care – above the 7 percent that experts consider affordable.

With federal funding for the new program due to arrive next year, if approved, LaRose said MUW – the Keene arm of a global group nonprofit that supports efforts related to children, education, financial stability and other basic community needs – works to determine the best use of these resources. The organization also hopes to identify other sources of funding so that it can continue the training in the years to come, she said.

“We are really excited about the opportunity to provide these services so that we can welcome more people in the field who love working with children and would really like to have a wonderful job and a good career,” she said.

Leatrice Oram, chief of staff to Keene State President Melinda Treadwell, said the program “could start immediately, no matter how small” if federal funding arrives next year.

“We can do a lot with $ 1 million,” she said.

Poling said these efforts should also include attempting to keep the natives of the Monadnock area in childcare jobs here, explaining that many experienced workers have recently left their jobs and most young people interested in the job. domain move away. Even students who work part-time jobs at Keene Daycare often leave the area after graduation, further limiting the daycare workforce, she said.

But with more professional development opportunities, Poling said, that trend could be reversed.

“It gives people a path and creates more of a feeling that this is a career,” she said.

Money for sewer maintenance

The federal spending bill also includes $ 325,000 for a maintenance review of the Keene sewage system, Shaheen said in a recent press release.

This project is necessary because the town’s main sewer line, which carries all sewage from Keene and Marlborough to a treatment plant near Dillant-Hopkins Airport in North Swanzey, was built in 1985, according to the Keene’s director of public works, Kürt Blomquist.

Blomquist said last week that he was not aware of any specific damage to the underground line, but that it was concrete, which can deteriorate over time. The federally-funded assessment would check for blockages or weaknesses in that system, he said.

“No one has seen it since it was installed 36 years ago,” he said.

This work could involve temporarily emptying the sewer line and probing it with a video camera, using ground-penetrating radar to detect any damage or sending signal-emitting technology through the pipe to check the flow of water. sewage, Blomquist said. The review is expected to take place about a year after receiving federal funding, he said.

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