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I want to talk about the care of one of the most valuable pieces of our community; our infants.

For over five years I have been teaching at a local childcare and for the last four, I have been pursuing my degree in early childhood education. Over this period, I have been proud to see our society providing more recognition and funds to support the crucial development that is happening during children’s early years.

Unfortunately, I feel that this attention has been slightly disproportionate as many childcare providers have focused their care towards preschool-aged children.

While this attention is good, we must remember that the care received and the development that occurs during the first 24 months of life is equally important. In Ravalli County there are only a handful of licensed infant care providers.

In an article you published this spring, Ravalli County Head Start’s director shared the fact that their program typically has around 30 infants and toddlers on their wait list as proof that there is a shortage of this type of care in our community. In light of this shortage, I want to encourage childcare providers to consider expanding their services to include infants. I want to encourage policymakers and other advocates to support the funding for infant care.

Finally, I want to thank all who do strive to provide a safe and healthy place for infants to develop. From stay-at-home moms to group homes and childcare centers; you are truly making a difference!

— Shanae Plocher, Corvallis

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