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Community Foundations supports Early Childhood Initiatives

March 22, 2013
Al Ricks - TCCF Outreach Coordinator , Traer Star-Clipper

What could be more important than caring for the lives of young children? The Tama County Community Foundation (TCCF), an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa, does exactly that as it supports the work of two child care facilities in northern Tama County. Through grants applied for and awarded in recent years, the TCCF has supported the work of the Crayon Corner Child Care Center in Gladbrook and the Pied Piper Child Care Center in Traer.

Crayon Corner is a very new facility in Gladbrook, located just north of the Gladbrook Elementary/Gladbrook-Reinbeck Middle School complex. The new building opened for use in 2010. A pre-school had operated in a Gladbrook church for a number of years, before moving to the school when before and after-school care was added. Then, through a joint initiative of the Gladbrook-Reinbeck Schools and the City of Gladbrook, the new Crayon Corner building was completed. It now offers a licensed childcare option for children, six weeks of age to 12 years.

Childcare is offered from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. five days each week. The childcare option is open to families even in inclement weather, so if parents have to be at work there is a safe and secure option for their children, no matter what. During the school year, school-age children are accompanied by a staff member on the short walk to and from school, and, at present, there are 12 children enrolled as before and after school kids.

Childcare for infants begins at six weeks of age. Presently, nine infants and toddlers are part of the Crayon Corner "family." Another nine are in childcare for 2-year olds.

Twenty-three children are enrolled in the Pre-School program, which has classes three days each week. These children are divided according to age, so that the learning is targeted specifically to their interests and abilities. On the days when Pre-School is not in session, childcare is offered for these ages.

At Crayon Corner, a staff of 15, including 5 full-time employees, lovingly care for the children. The center is licensed by the Iowa Department of Human Services, which sets strict standards for the safety and operation of the center. It is governed by a non-profit board of directors. The board includes a member representative from the Gladbrook-Reinbeck School Board, and one from the Gladbrook City Council.

TCCF grants have helped Crayon Corner acquire essential equipment. One recent year's grant helped the center purchase 8 new cribs, after the DHS standards for cribs changed. And, even though the cribs that had been in use were relatively new, they had to be replaced to meet the stricter standards. This was an unforeseen extra cost, and the TCCF grant helped meet that need. Another grant helped with the purchase of a dishwasher for the kitchen, where meals for the children are prepared each day. These basic equipment purchases may seem fairly modest, but, for a center that works on tight margins, a grant award can be a godsend.

That was certainly the case at Pied Piper in Traer, following the destructive windstorm that moved through northern Tama County in 2011. In one night's destruction, Pied Piper lost the entire chain link fence that surrounded the Center's playground. Michelle Gethmann, co-director of the Pied Piper Center, described that destruction in graphic terms, as being "unimaginable, with trees uprooted, playground equipment destroyed, and the fence completely ripped away."

Since Pied Piper is located right beside Highway 63, it was imperative to get the fence replaced as quickly as possible. The TCCF grant enabled that to happen. Pied Piper holds other fund-raising events and seeks funding from other sources, in addition to the enrollment fees paid by the 82 families that use the center. But, again, when margins are tight, it is awfully difficult to find extra dollars to help when there is an emergency need.

Like Crayon Corner, Pied Piper has also appealed to the TCCF for help with kitchen equipment. Another year's grant replaced a freezer, and the current need is for a new stove, to help in meal preparation for the 123 children who are being served in Traer.

TCCF takes very seriously its commitment to the children and youth of Tama County. It is pleased to be able to partner with these two fine child care centers as together they serve nearly 200 of the county's most precious resource! TCCF is able to assist 501(c)(3) charitable organizations, schools, and governmental entities with grant funding to support important projects and needed programs in Tama County. The Foundation's primary goals are to support charitable projects and programs, to attract additional funds, and to assist donors in creating lasting legacies through a variety of giving options within Tama County. For more information about the TCCF, contact the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa at (319) 287-9106, or Rick Krug, Chair of the TCCF at (319) 478-2148.



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