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Child care crisis aired

A loss of funding will result in closing of the Caring Hands Childcare facility next to Anderson Fabrics in Blackduck. At least 29 families with 48 children now served there will be impacted and of those, at least 28 children will lose all child ...

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Deb Allison, executive director of BI-CAP, delivers bad news to staff and parents at a meeting held at the Blackduck child care center Aug. 3.

A loss of funding will result in closing of the Caring Hands Childcare facility next to Anderson Fabrics in Blackduck. At least 29 families with 48 children now served there will be impacted and of those, at least 28 children will lose all child care services.

In addition, three full time and one part time employee will lose their jobs.

The news was delivered at a meeting of staff, parents and others by Deb Allison, executive director of BI-CAP at the Caring Hands center Aug. 3.

Allison was apologetic as she told the small group, "We've hit a wall. Some stimulus money helped us get through another year, but now it's gone and so has the other flexible funding we've looked for. We're going to be $39,000 short by September."

That, she added, will just be part of the $82,000 shortage in the coming year. The care center will be closed and the combined Head Start and Early Head Start programs will be moved into the facility which was purchased earlier from Anderson. Contrary to widespread understanding, the daycare facilities had been open to public participation. The fabric manufacturer had maintained the building including paying for utilities for several years but Anderson itself had become subject to the economic downturn. BI-CAP's board of directors agreed to acquire it.

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Allison commended Anderson for their years of support of the program, one which benefited company employees as well.

Ideas on how to move forward were voiced by many of those attending and a suggestion was made to poll those unable to attend on questions including the hours of operation when the combined operation begins Sept. 19, which days of the week it will be open and significantly, how parents and children will cope during the time it is closed after Sept. 2.

It was agreed by several that the combined program should continue to work with Blackduck School District officials on bus transportation and other areas of potential cooperative programs.

Blackduck city government was represented by Councilmember Daryl Lundberg and City Administrator Karen Elhard. Beltrami County was represented by Commissioner Quentin Fairbanks, who also serves as a BI-CAP board member.

Fairbanks startled those attending with the blunt announcement that Minnesota is still shut down. "Counties aren't getting their money, cities aren't getting their money. The state is hoping we'll spend all the money in the county reserve and cities will spend all their reserves so then the state can look good. Meanwhile the homeless are on the street and we can't help them. The federal government sends money to the state and the state is supposed to pass it on, but we're not getting it," Fairbanks said. Allison quickly added that BI-CAP hasn't gotten its money yet either.

Suggestions ranging from spaghetti suppers to a search for an as yet unknown benefactor were discussed with ideas including using the present Head Start building for a private day care center. At the end, Allison thanked those in attendance, asking them to offer any suggestions which might ease the pain for any of the families immediately affected.

Related Topics: BLACKDUCK
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