YOUNTVILLE — Carrying babies and pushing strollers, parents came to Yountville Community Center on Saturday to find out what preschool options are available in Napa County.
The free event, organized by the Napa Moms’ Club for the fourth year, was sort of a one-stop shop for about 150 parents with children under the age of 5. About 50 preschools, county organizations and vendors were represented.
“For parents that don’t have a lot of time, to be able to even go see 10 preschools is a daunting task,” said Karen Zimolzak, the fair coordinator, as parents signed up for raffle prizes at the door.
Kalen and Alison Gruber of Napa came to evaluate options for their 17-month-old son, Frasier.
“It’s the best place to proactively evaluate some of the options,” said Kalen Gruber as he sat at a table with Frasier. “We’ve found some great ones.”
Scott and Carol Ritter of Napa, who have 18-month-old girls, were there as well. “I didn’t realize there were that many educational opportunities,” Scott Ritter said as he held Shay, one of his twin daughters.
The need for infant care for children under the age of 2 in Napa County remains huge, a Napa Moms’ Club representative and others said.
“I was hoping there would be more infant care,” said Claudette Shatto, the mother of two children under the age of 2 and a Moms’ Club member. “It’s tough.”
Shatto, who works in public relations, and other moms estimated child care to cost about $1,100 a month.
“That’s why there are so many stay-at-home moms. Because it’s just not cost-effective .... and it doesn’t exist,” she said, referring to infant care.
Representatives from preschools and other organizations serving young children said they enjoyed networking at the fair, learning about activities available through the city of Napa’s Parks and Recreation Services Department, Napa County’s library system, Connolly Ranch, and other organizations.
“These are good things for me as an educator,” said Tory Gaba, director of the Napa Valley Montessori Learning Center in American Canyon.
One group present at the fair, St. Helena Preschool for All, was formed after the federally subsidized Head Start program ended in St. Helena. The group raises money to allow low-income children to attend preschool and sponsors 20 kids, said Rodolfo Morales and Jaime Rubio. They hope Head Start will return in St. Helena.
“It’s so hard to raise funds,” Rubio said.
Lola Cornish-Nickens, associate director of Community Resources for Children, said there are 84 licensed child care homes, where families live at the residence, and 57 licensed child care centers in Napa County.
The nonprofit referral agency maintains a list with the names of more than 1,000 children who are eligible to receive subsidized child care in Napa County, but are not being served because there is no money available from the state.
“I think there would be a lot more people on the list if they knew that there was any chance of actually getting (child care),” Cornish-Nickens said.