Nature & Nurture: Caring for Our Children and Community

By Tom Moore, JCF Volunteer Jefferson County is a child care desert. Child Care of Washington reports there are only 166 licensed child care slots for the 962 children under the age of 5 in the county. This represents a decrease of 303 spots from 2015 to 2020, while the number of infants born to local families over the past three years has ranged from 166 to 199 annually. Based on these numbers, Jefferson County has child care capacity for only 5% of all children 0-3 years old. With 65% of families having parents working outside the home about 625 of the 962 children under the age of 6 are left needing child care. In addition, between 2015 and 2020, Jefferson County lost five licensed child care programs. Making this situation even worse, a recent study by Lending Tree found a 55% increase in child care costs per child in Washington during the pandemic, with the statewide average annual cost of child care rising from $11,744 to $18,237. The study also found Washington households allocated on average 14% of their income toward childcare. For Jefferson County, whose 2019 median income was $55,127 per household and $29,678 per individual, parents face the prospect of paying an even higher percentage. These statistics are nothing new to local healthcare and education experts. Dunia Faulx, Director of Population Health and Care Transformation at Jefferson Healthcare, states it clearly: “We’ve been saying there's a problem with childcare in this community for the…

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McComas’ Legacy of Compassion Aids Charity Care

Charity Care, a financial assistance program at Jefferson Healthcare, is the recipient of a $5,000 grant from the Teri McComas Memorial Fund. The award is designated to assist patients seeking breast cancer screenings and care through the local Mammography Center. “It’s grants like these that help to ensure that no one is ever turned away from Jefferson Healthcare due to inability to pay or lack of insurance coverage, and that all of our neighbors can access the care they need,” said Kris Becker, Executive Director of the Jefferson Healthcare Foundation. Established in January 2020 by Bruce McComas, Teri’s husband of 46-years, the memorial fund honors her lifelong commitment to improving the health and well-being of women and girls in Jefferson County, and ensuring that residents undergoing cancer treatments have unrestricted access to care. Teri, who passed away in October 2016, was devoted to helping people throughout her life. She was active in the Presbyterian Church, the local PEO Chapter, and was a member of the first Jefferson Community Foundation Giving Circle called “Women Who Care”. She also helped start the Fund for Women and Girls and served on the Port Townsend Main Street Board for four years. She was known to serve with grace, charm, and an infectious smile.  “Teri was such a caring person. She always thought of others first. I want her spirit of caring to live on forever and this fund is one way to ensure that happens,” Bruce said. The Fund began with…

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Jeffco Vamonos plans youth trips to Seattle and beyond

Having worked with — and raised — teenagers in Jefferson County, Amy Bartlett hesitated at using the words “at risk.” Labeling young people isn’t something she’s inclined to do, even if the child has been suspended or otherwise isolated from school. Bartlett, who has worked as Chimacum’s “office lady,” as a YMCA tutor and a coordinator of the county’s homeless youth program, has established a new nonprofit organization, Jeffco Vamonos. The name, an emphatic form of the Spanish expression for “Let’s go!,” describes her mission: to help local teens learn to navigate the world outside their home county. Along with her board of directors, which includes schoolteachers and business people, Bartlett has a vision for field trips to culturally rich places in King County — and even to an agricultural village in Baja California. Job training and mentorship are also part of the plan for the organization, which aims to pick up where Port Townsend’s Jumping Mouse Children’s Center and the Jefferson County Big Brothers-Big Sisters programs leave off agewise. Jeffco Vamonos plans field trips for middle- and high school-age kids this fall, to places such as Uwajimaya, the Asian grocery in Seattle’s International District; the Ballard Locks; the Pacific Science Center and Pike Place Market. These are excursions for teens whose families couldn’t otherwise afford them, Bartlett said. They’re also for Jefferson County students who’ve entered what she calls the “loop.” Over and over, the youngsters get “discipline referrals,” as they’re called at school. After being…

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