Let’s face it. The cost of child care has never been higher. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the average annual cost of child care for a four-year-old in the state of Washington is nearly $1,000 a month. In this state, it is cheaper to go to an in-state four-year public college than it is to cover the cost of child care for a single child. And this number obviously goes up with additional children in a family.
For many in Clark County, especially those with lower incomes, the cost is simply unsustainable. In an ongoing effort to counteract this grim reality, TwinStar Credit Union has elected to support Learning Avenues Child Care Centers in Vancouver to help low income families relieve some of the burden of these costs, and make it possible for parents to work.
Learning Avenues offers daycare, child care and an after school center at four locations in the Vancouver area that caters specifically to low income families. “We offer families a sliding fee scale so they are able to pay for child care according to their household income,” says Dorene Brugman, the new director for the organization.
The folks at TwinStar believe this is important in helping families succeed financially. Tony Ruestig, Community Engagement Manager for the Southwest Region of TwinStar Credit Union says, “Without the services that Learning Avenues Child Care Center provide, parents would have to leave their children alone, or not leave for work, which starts a terrible cycle, for both the parent not having enough to pay the bills, and the child not having enough support to feel safe and learn.”
TwinStar’s support for Learning Avenues does not come as much of a shock to those who know of TwinStar’s history. After all, TwinStar’s roots began at a school. Since that time, TwinStar has made a point to do the right thing and keep it local. “TwinStar is part of this community,” explains Ruestig. “And by supporting Learning Avenues, TwinStar is able to help the kids with care and education, as well as help the parents have a place to bring their kids for little or no cost daycare. Without this support from TwinStar, the care center would have to limit the number of kids that could attend the center.”
The relationship between TwinStar and Learning Avenues connects to all the people involved, and the dedication they have to make it work. “We recently switched our banking to TwinStar based on the relationship we have developed with Tony,” says Brugman. “Tony has been an amazing supporter of Learning Avenues. He is on our Board of Directors, attends our fund-raising events, provides input and advice on anything we ask him, he is our go-to guy on any banking question we may have and he points us in the direction of who we need to contact.”
2019 is a big year for Learning Avenues. The organization will be celebrating its 50th anniversary of helping the community with child care needs. In an effort to help subsidize this effort, they will be hosting their 25th Learning Avenues Golf Tournament. “TwinStar Credit Union and the Garage Bar and Grill have been major sponsors of the event,” says Ruestig. “The tournament draws in businesses and supporters, as well as a few local politicians. Learning Avenues Kids Count Open Tournament has had a full course with golfers on a waiting list for years. It is an event many look forward to every year.”
The TwinStar/Learning Avenues relationship makes for a lot of planning and preparation, but the impact it has on the kids seems to make it all worthwhile. “[Learning Avenues] believes that children learn by doing, and that every child is an individual. They believe that their primary focus is to enhance, support, and strengthen a child’s self-esteem and provide a safe and healthy environment that provides a sense of security.” Brugman sees the impact in talking with the children. “The thing I love most is the conversations I have with kids,” she says. “Kids give us new perspectives all the time, and I think we can learn as much from them as we can teach them.”