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PCSD Child Care Center Offers Affordable, Quality Opportunity For Families

The Park City School District Child Care Center provides affordable, quality care and education to children from six weeks to 10-years of age.
The non-profit Child Care Center is in the Park City High School although it is a separate operation, independent of the Park City School District. Director Sue Panne Baker has been working with children for more than 40 years.

COVID-19 has forced restrictions on the number of children they can safely accommodate.

“Last year, we had 86 total children. We had six in our after-school program in 80 throughout our infants through preschool programs. We have full time and part time opportunities so I would say probably 90% of our children are full time and then the other 10% are part time. So due to COVID you can see our numbers have had to be slashed in half and then drastically reduced.”

Administrative Assistant Ashley Baer says they are unique compared to most childcare centers because they try to provide as much flexibility as possible.

“We have a tuition rate that we charge monthly. A lot of the local centers charge annually. We try to be as flexible and affordable as we can, to offer childcare for our community as well as our staff and teachers here within the district. So, we charge a monthly tuition rate. In the past we have structured special pay rates and stuff for families. We work with families and make sure that everyone has the opportunity for quality, affordable childcare. So yes, in the past we have worked out different payment plans and such for families that need assistance.”

Panne Baker says they look for lead teachers to hold a four-year degree in an education related area. Aids and Assistants would typically have credits or certifications which she says are not too expensive to obtain. But attracting and retaining teachers is difficult.

“Since I’ve entered this field out of college I would say the most one of the most challenging things is finding individuals, employees who would meet the degrees and have the experience and knowledge to work with young children. A lot of colleges on Utah don’t offer an early childhood program, they offer an elementary program, and it is a real struggle to find employees. And also, the pay rates, the salaries and the pay rates that we can offer makes it very challenging to find quality employees.”

Employees in the child-care center are not part of the school district and do not have the same compensation package as a public-school teacher. Panne Baker says it causes persistent problems attracting qualified teachers and care givers.

“The struggle is in order to have the appropriate budget tuition would almost need to triple, which we want to have affordable quality care. So that is always the underlying issue for hiring and finding quality employees.”
Baer says they use a Creative Curriculum based on education theories such as Piaget, Vygotsky and Gardner.

“And we use a Scholastic Big-day Curriculum. And again, it's structured--the different learning and developmental stages for each age group and then applied curriculum for them. And then our teachers and staff are trained in their age specific areas so that they can provide the best form of education for those age group that they're working with.”

Under normal circumstances, children can use many of the high school facilities such as the gym, the track and   the playing fields. Baer says teachers commonly send volunteers to work with the program and they partner in a variety of ways with the school district.

“We do work with the special needs program with their intro to work program that they offer. We do volunteer opportunities for students and programs such as the National Honor Society and Student Council and allow the students like to come and partner with us for volunteer hours that they need for scholarships. So, we really do cherish our relationship that we have with the school.”

The pre-school program has openings for three, four and five-year-old children.  More information about the Park City School District Child Care Center can be found here.

KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.
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