Casper Step Up for Kids Day 2012

Donna Sonesen, director of the Casper College Early Childhood Learning Center, opens the event.

Casper steps up for kids

Speakers urge support for policies that support children, families

Advocates for Casper’s – and Wyoming’s – children spoke out for policies that ensure that children have access to affordable health care and decried state budget cuts that could harm the small businesses that provide safe, quality child care at the fifth annual Casper Step Up for Kids Day.

More than 30 people attended the Sept. 21 event that focused attention on the need to vote for candidates who support policies that make sure children get a good start in life. Speakers urged everyone to ask political candidates where they stand on early education, juvenile justice, and other issues affecting the lives of children.

They heard Laurie Stadtfeld, who runs Laurie’s Inn, a Casper child care business, decry Department of Family Services cuts that have eliminated the “child care finder” program offered by Children and Nutrition Services, and reduced subsidies that helped low-income families pay for care.

Single-parent Jeralee Salmon talked about her difficult decision to “humble” herself and accept help from state programs and the Casper YMCA that have made it possible to pursue her degree in Social Work at UW/Casper College.

“A difficult decision needed to be made,” she said, when she recognized that holding a full-time job while enrolled as a full-time student meant she could devote less than a hour a day to give her son Shane the motherly attention he needed.

Jeralee Salmon outlined programs that have lifted her and her son.

“If I continued working, but left school, I would end up stagnating, and needing to receive government assistance in order to care for my son indefinitely.” she said.

“However, I could see that if I humbled myself enough to seek out and accept the assistance offered by the many organizations in our community, and left work to make my education a priority, eventually I would be able to support the two of us on my own.

“I have chosen the harder road, quitting work and seeking out the help temporarily needed to survive,” she said.

The event at the Nicolaysen Museum band shell was attended by two candidates for the state Senate, Kim Holloway and Jim Anderson, and Casper City Council candidates Cordell Wistisen and Charlie Powell. All engaged in conversations with attendees about the need to support children.

Casper Mayor Kenyne Schlager opened the event and asked Shaness Doherty of the Youth Empowerment Council attending to read her proclamation declaring Sept. 21 Casper Step Up for Kids Day.

You can read Casper Star-Tribune coverage of the event here.

This post was updated at 11:35 a.m. Sept. 24.

Step Up for Kids Day organizers clear the Nicolaysen band shell.

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