Amber Ramirez is correct when she says that there is a need for more child care, especially early child care, in the Ignacio community (Letters, Herald, Aug. 11). After many years of very few care options for children up to age 3, Southern Ute Head Start was able to establish an Early Head Start program in 1999 with space for 32 children up to 3 years old. From the outset of this program, there has been a waiting list for services. We operate according to Head Start guidelines, which prioritize families with the lowest incomes. Additionally, enrollment criteria have been established and approved by the parents of the program, the SUCAP board of directors and the Southern Ute Tribal Council. Each time there is an addition to the waiting list, our staff reranks the names according to these criteria. Because we adhere to these criteria, some families stay on the waiting list for many months and even years.
Care for children younger than 3 is limited throughout La Plata County. State requirements for increased supervision of this age group make the service more expensive to provide; therefore it is more costly for parents as well. There are many families in the same difficult situation they cant afford child care without a decent-paying job or cant get a job without child care.
This issue is not a new one. To date, our ability to provide services has not kept up with the need. We continue to work with our partners in the Ignacio community to address this issue, but we have not yet been able to find a long-term solution.
Eileen Wasserbach, executive director, Southern Ute Community Action Programs