The phrase “it takes an island to raise a child” is commonplace in our community. We are there for our neighbors, look out for each other’s children, and pay forward debts of gratitude. But how do we address financial shortfalls when times of trouble hit? What relief do working families have when child care bills grow beyond what is manageable in their budget due to unforeseen circumstances?
It is with deep appreciation that I want to commend the work that United Way of San Juan County does to provide scholarships to meet the needs of these families in crisis. They provide funds each year through a needs-based grant program to award scholarship funds to the preschools and child care centers of Orcas Island. At Kaleidoscope, these funds are often seen as a “miracle” to the families who receive them. I have had parents hug me in tears, relieved that the burden of a past due bill has been covered in their time of need so that their child can continue to attend. That sweet relief is made possible through the generosity of United Way, whose goal is to ensure that our county supports early learning programs to promote kindergarten readiness and future academic success.
When families struggle financially, there is a negative impact on children’s ability to be successful in school, and the outcome of these challenges can have a long-lasting effect throughout a child’s life.
I applaud United Way for continuing to fund scholarships that provide access to early learning experiences for the children who need it the most. Each of us in the community can do our part by contributing to United Way in their effort to reach the goal of school readiness for our children, not only through monetary donations, but also by engaging and promoting United Way as a pillar of support in our islands. With deepest gratitude for those who care about our little ones,