Published in the Iola Register on Oct. 4, 2013.

Letter to the Editor 10-4-13


Dear Editor,
 Our community faces many challenges common to rural towns. There are many varied thoughts on the types of services that should be offered, which businesses can be attracted, keeping pace with the educational needs, and which public services need upgraded, and how. We moved back to Concordia three years ago. I encountered a few obstacles which were disappointing. The major hurdle was selecting good childcare. And, as I have observed and experienced in the three years since, it continues to frustrate families from all corners of our community.
I am expressing my concern to two things. The first being the ridiculous amount of paperwork that adds many hours of extra time and hassle that both home providers and centers are required by law to file. Unfortunately, it is creates a system where the provider feels the squeeze financially and takes time away from planning for their little charges. I know that the best intentions created the additional paperwork, but that is a very expensive proposition for a career that already experiences very tight margins.
 I understand safety first. Yet some requirements are amazingly stringent. Many children reside in homes with their guardians that are not nearly as sterile and child proofed as the child care center or home. I will be the first to admit my understanding of the laws and regulations is limited. Some rules, like meeting training hour goals is a smart one. I do believe providers should be aware of creating a safe and healthy environment. I have seen more families struggling to find a place to keep their children, moving between providers. I do not believe, in many cases, it is the provider's fault. Government programs make it all the harder. The question becomes which hurdles keep them from accomplishing the care they seek to provide?
I am in favor of centers for our family. I always liked the fact that one more set of eyes is watching. There are more kids, and more activities. The hours are consistent. There tends to be more diversity for children. I enjoy my boys experiencing friendship with others from different socioeconomic background. The expense is very steep to run that sort of business.  I have had experience with home-based care. The provider was excellent, and probably one of the very best. I saw her being inundated with paperwork, and though I cannot speak for her, I do not think, after her time in running her business, she came close to earning the pay she most likely deserved. It takes a toll on our community daycare owners. I feel bureaucracy dominates in education, and it’s worse on early care providers.
My appeal to our local leadership is (and even to the community) that we need choices for child care. We have brand new jail, and our schools and childcare need attention. This is not just an investment in our community’s future. It is a yardstick young, talented professionals measure by when picking a residence. It is also the way single parents, who are working their way out of poverty get a boost. Foster children have a place to learn and flourish when they are away from the families. Childcare is a very serious and important endeavor. I believe it needs to be a focus in our community. I feel strongly that it should be investigated if we are setting up providers and children to succeed and thrive. The way it looks now, one has to wonder if we are more concerned with prisoners than our littlest children. Parents and Grandparents, please share your concern at the local and state level.

                                                                                                     Andrea Harms
                                                                                                                                                  Concordia