PC Tots New Executive Director Andrea Barnes Discusses Goals, Needs
PC Tots has a new Executive Director who brings a skill set of education and nonprofit experience. After an extended national search, the early childcare center has placed Executive Director Andrea Barnes at the helm. She hails from Utah and started her new role July 12.
She’ll oversee the two PC Tots facilities in Prospector – and possibly additional sites. Plans are in the works for expanding in the Snyderville Basin, to meet the community’s needs and shorten a wait list of more than 100 children. The two existing locations serve nearly 80 children and employ 23 people.
Barnes previously served as CEO of the International Corporate Foundation for ECHO Connection, a health, wellness and fitness non-profit. She's also held leadership positions with the MORE Project, Globus Relief, and The Waterford School.
She said the PC Tots mission to close the opportunity gap for all children and prepare them to thrive and succeed in kindergarten and beyond is inspiring.
"There are a lot of studies that show that if you can help a child to develop their mind, their emotional and their social skills very, very early," Barnes said. "Those are the things that are going to help set the stage. But then, to be successful for the rest of their lives, so it turns out that this pre-K education and childcare is a very, very important formative time for children."
Barnes said that nationwide, the challenge for early childhood education and care providers is finding qualified people to work with children at all stages between birth and five years old. She said finding appropriate staff for infant care is the biggest hurdle.
"We're really looking to increase the level of expertise that we're bringing into our organization as well as just completely filling in, you know, our assistant teachers and our roaming teachers and things like that," she said." But we want to have bachelor's prepared preschool education instructors for our kids. So, you need loving, kind, people who provide a safe and stimulating environment. And so, we're not doing preschool way back to those kids, but you're doing developmentally appropriate kinds of activities with those children. And then we're moving our threes, fours, fives, and pre-K, that's where we're really looking to bring in these bachelors prepared teachers and to help those teachers, mentor all of our other teachers as well."
Most childcare businesses don't pay a living wage, but Barnes said the PC Tots board of directors is committed to setting a higher standard in the industry. They now offer healthcare, vacation, and retirement benefits for full-time employees. Their not-for-profit model also offers sliding scale tuition programs for working families in Summit County.
"Our model is actually the beauty of the thing and it's one of the reasons why we were founded that there's a massive gap in high-quality childcare and early childhood education for working families," Barnes said. "Childcare, it turns out, and early childhood education, can take up a huge proportion of people's budgets. It's well over $1,000 a month. Sometimes that's 30%. Sometimes it's more than what people are paying for rent."
She said fundraising and grant writing will always be a part of their business model.
"You know we get grants from Workforce Services for some of our families, so there is some support that way, but I think that in order for us to fulfill our mission, that sliding scale is vital," Barnes said. "And so, it will always be a nonprofit status, we will be raising money, and we won't apologize for that because that is one way that we can really solve some of the thorniest issues around this particular topic."
The pandemic dictated cuts in enrollment numbers. Their staff is 100% vaccinated, and they follow CDC COVID-19 guidelines closely.
KPCW news reports on issues affecting children aged zero through three years old is brought to you by the Early Childhood fund at the Park City Community Foundation. For more information, go to early childhood Alliance.net.