Work is underway in the Goldendale area to plan for a future childcare facility as well as to develop a path for individuals to become certified to provide in-home childcare. 

As part of a recent planning grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce, the Childcare Committee of Klickitat County recently contracted Larissa Leveque as the Childcare Liaison through its fiscal sponsor Washington Gorge Action Programs (WAGAP). Leveque is undertaking the role to create a more centralized point of information in regards to the childcare facility licensing process.

This new journey is a personal one for her. Leveque has six years’ previous experience working in the childcare industry and is currently enrolled with Clark College, studying for her Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. Her personal goal is to become certified to be a childcare center director. 

She and her husband recently moved to the Goldendale area, and as she looked for opportunities in the industry, she quickly became aware that none existed locally. She started inquiring about what is available and what would it take to start a center or provide in-home childcare. Her journey led her to Penny Andress, KVH Nurse Care Manager and a co-founder of the committee. Andress said she was very excited about the timing of their meeting and that she is looking forward to the progress they expect to make. As she said, Leveque is “so vested in bringing quality childcare to our community.”

“My job is to try to develop a business plan,” Leveque said, “for both the center we are hoping to develop, as well as for in-home providers.” She is working closely with the Washington Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCFY), the state agency that oversees licensing for childcare facilities. She is also becoming familiar with other programs such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) that provides reimbursement for nutritious meals and snacks that meet minimum guidelines. She noted that programs such as CACFP can help offset costs, which are often part of the barrier of running a successful facility, especially in a rural community.

Training and certification requirements are other areas that she is studying in an attempt to help bring information together in one location to help those interested in getting licensed to provide in-home childcare. The plans she is developing will be intended to aid them as they navigate through the many hurdles to opening their businesses. The overall goal will be to increase local capacity to support families with young children and assist local employers with workforce stability.

Leveque noted this is the beginning of a new stage for the childcare committee as it prepares to embark on a formal feasibility study to uncover the needs, potential local assets and requirements to bring licensed childcare providers to the Goldendale area. She invites groups and individuals interested in the licensing project to reach out to her by email at rissaleveque@gmail.com or call her at (360) 936-6478.

Other interested individuals and organizations who would like to know more about the ongoing efforts of the Childcare Committee of Klickitat County should contact Leslie Naramore, WAGAP Executive Director, at info@wagap.org or call her at (509) 493-2662 to learn more about how to contribute to the greater overall effort.