Supporting the future | AspenTimes.com

Supporting the future

Dear Editor:Kids First of Glenwood Springs has for the last few years provided valuable trainings, money for staff development and much needed support to the early childhood education community in our area. This five-year initiative was made possible through the generosity and forward thinking of the Aspen Community Foundation. These monies will run out all too soon and children, parents, early childhood teachers and the community will be at a great loss.The early childhood profession has subsidized childcare for too long. Centers are only able to charge what parents can afford. Quality is all too often sacrificed by high turn over and under paid and unqualified staff. Lip service is paid to valuing our young but dedicated teachers are forced to accept hugs for compensation. Preschool teachers are aware that in order to succeed in school children must enter kindergarten ready to learn which means having a quality preschool experience first. They know that intelligence is greatly influenced by environment and early experiences.Our country is sending their children to childcare. They do not seem to realize that what happens there will greatly effect their children: how they learn, what they learn and how they will impact their world. Early childhood educators are part of a specialized discipline not babysitters. Education does not begin in kindergarten. The importance of early years has multiplied as the standards movement has taken over. If children are not ready to learn when they reach kindergarten everyone suffers.However, there is no or very little support for those investing their time and energy in the very young child. Policy makers need to hear from EVERYONE that we need more trained early childhood personnel and expanded services for young children and their families. The preschool experience is where parent education and support begins. It is where information on development and early intervention services are disseminated. It is where inclusion happens and all children are accepted. It is a place of huge responsibility but where little value seems to be placed.It is just plain smart to invest in children. The Aspen Community Foundation is to be commended for having the insight to fund Kids First in our community. What we need now is the public’s support to continue their vision. We need commissioners, representatives and the community to open their eyes to the importance of Early Childhood Education and to support a better way for the children and their families. We are not a special interest group, we are the future.Katherine Ware Early Childhood Educator