Woodland Public Schools’ childcare program receives $50,000 grant from Cowlitz Indian Tribe

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The Cowlitz Indian Tribe has awarded a $50,000 grant to Woodland Child Care (WCC), the childcare program provided by Woodland Public Schools for before and after school care.

The WCC program provides care at both elementary schools, and also includes a variation of the program at Yale Elementary, the district’s remote school in Ariel, stated a news release.

“Between all of our campuses, we serve more than 120 students,” said Melissa “Missy” Sorensen, the director of WCC. “Our mission is to provide a caring and nurturing environment to all children.”

Sorensen has been leading the Woodland Public Schools’ childcare program for over 20 years.

“I was approached by the district’s community liaison in 1999 to see if I would run a before and after school childcare program for the district,” she said in the release. “Woodland has always needed more childcare options, so I said ‘yes,’ and since Woodland has continued to grow, the need for childcare has increased with that growth.”

Childcare costs have increased over time, stated the release. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the issue throughout the state and the country.

“With the support of the school board and our district administrators, WCC reopened its doors for full-day care in June 2020 and supported virtual learning for our students,” Sorensen said. “However, we had to hire extra staff to maintain small group sizes and manage the additional health protocols presented by the pandemic, which was made even more costly due to lower attendance rates resulting in less revenue generation.”

Over the past two years, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe has awarded WCC with two grants, the most recent being in September for $50,000.

“These substantial grants provide funds to hire staff, maintain our playground facilities, replace failing equipment (most recently a refrigerator) as well as purchase personal protective equipment, craft supplies, and toys,” Sorensen said. “The support of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe has been instrumental in allowing the WCC to operate and provide childcare services to the children and families of the Woodland community. We are so grateful for their ongoing generosity and support of both the WCC and Woodland Public Schools.”

The Cowlitz Indian Tribe has helped with community building in Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis, Pierce, Skamania, and Wahkiakum counties. The Tribal Council has leveraged grants into multi-million dollar operations, stated the release. Recent projects include a modern health clinic in Longview, health services in Tukwila and Vancouver, and viable housing units at its St. Mary’s complex near Toledo.

Families interested in enrolling in WCC can learn more by contacting Program Manager Missy Sorensen at 360-607-7926 or by email at sorensem@woodlandschools.org. To learn more, go online to woodland
schools.org/childcare.

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