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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Kyle Vuille photo

Local daycare faces closure due to lack of certified staff

By Kyle Vuille

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

One of the Glendive’s oldest childcare services, Kool Kids is facing closure due to lack of certified staff.

The daycare is in need of three primary caregivers and a staff cook at the moment.

There’s been further complication as of June 9 when Kool Kids lost another important member of their staff, the director, Gail Hardin. Val Damron stepped in as the interim director, but is unable to continue filling in due to her Glendive school system job.

Annual license renewal for the facility is due on July 31. If those positions are not filled by the due date, the daycare will be forced to close.

In order for a daycare to be fully operational and licensed, there must be one primary caregiver per room.

At the moment, Sharla Jerrell with the Department of Public Health and Human Services, who issues the licenses for 17 counties has given Kool Kids permission to have a “floating” primary while the daycare scrambles  to find the three needed primaries.

Cindy Gabbert, the Board President of Kool Kids, says getting those primaries with the experience has been very difficult.

Gabbert says childcare is such a gratifying job, but it’s a low paying one despite the fact a certified primary caregiver is required to have a year’s experience in childcare along with a clean background check.

“There are fast food restaurants who offer better wages than the childcare industry,” said Gabbert.

According to information from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, the issue facing Kool Kids is not necessarily widespread.

“We have heard of this happening in other communities where licensed childcare facilities have struggled to recruit and hire qualified staff for key management positions,” said Jon Ebelt, a public information officer for the agency. “But, we would not characterize this as a statewide issue.”

There will be several other options for the approximately 32 children at the daycare if it closes, one being relocated to a group or family daycare. 

A group daycare consists of two caregivers for a maximum of twelve children. A family daycare entails one caregiver with a limit of six children in the home.

The last option is moving the kids to one of the other licensed daycares in town, Our Savior Lutheran Childcare Ministries or Kiddie College which both currently have waiting lists.

Kool Kids originally opened in 1991 through the city’s recreation department under the name of PLAS4FN Youth Center and was held in the Sacred Heart gymnasium.

More recently, the current building on Douglas St. was bought and named Kool Kids Kamp and later shortened to Kool Kids.

Gabbert and Damron strongly encourage qualified caregivers to apply for the open positions in order for the daycare to stay open.

“We have awesome families, amazing staff, and I wish we could keep going,” said Damron.

Please contact Cindy Gabbert at (406) 939 4222 or Val Damron at (701) 340 8230 for more information.

Reach Kyle Vuille at
news@rangerreview.com.

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