SISTERS, OR -- Sisters Parks and Recreation plans to expand its childcare program, thanks to new funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Executive Director Jennifer Holland says the $25,000 will help them serve about a third more three to five year olds this school year, "By getting these funds, we’re able to add an additional classroom, which can serve up to 20 more kids, so that those kiddos can be properly prepared as they enter into kindergarten; not only education-wise, but it can also meet that need for families." She tells KBND News the money will be used to recruit and retain new teachers for an additional 3- to 5-year-old classroom, cover start-up costs and possibly create scholarships for needy families, "It’s not only going to let us add that classroom, but it’s going to allow us to add additional staff to support the existing classrooms, so we can take those up to capacity. They were not at capacity last year because of staffing shortages."
She says there is a serious lack of childcare providers in Sisters, "We’ve had an ongoing waitlist, not only in our preschool program, but in our after-school program. And when we have that waitlist, we have parents that don’t have the ability to work in the community even though they really want to." That waitlist, she says, was 60 families long, last year, "And that’s insane. Not only do we have the lack of ability to run these programs. But then, being a small town, it’s hard to hire people - it’s hard to recruit people. So, people have these jobs in Redmond or Bend. It’s really trying to find those people here in Sisters who want to do these jobs and give back to their community in this way."
Deschutes County Commissioners recently approved the funding distribution. Also receiving ARPA funds in this latest county allocation, the nonprofit Furnish Hope. Commissioners approved $81,000 to help with their mission to provide basic household furniture to families in need.