Child-care venture called ‘exciting’

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 11, 2000

What would S.

Friday, February 11, 2000

What would S.D. Catherwood think?

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His home will become a day-care center in Austin.

The house with the huge white pillars at 707 Fourth St. NW will be the pilot project of Apex Austin.

On Thursday, Apex Austin announced the funding of the first project from the Hormel Foundation "community development fund".

A total of $194,000 was awarded to the Parenting Resource Center of Mower County Inc. for capital costs to develop a child-care home designed to address 24-hour care, sick-child care, with a strong multicultural program component.

Jerry Anfinson co-chair of Apex Austin said, "This outgrowth of the Apex committee is an exciting new venture with some amount of risk yet one that has the potential to offer a high degree of success."

"This is exactly what we need and it is a natural fit for the Parenting Resource Center to be providing these services," Anfinson said at a news conference at US Bank Austin.

Maryanne Law, executive director of the Parenting Resource Center, addressed some of the specifics of the services to be offered.

"This employer-based child-care home will be available to employers who enter into direct-service contracts with the PRC," Law said. "We will reserve slots for children referred by them."

"The types of non-traditional child care that we will be providing includes 24-hour-a-day, bilingual, infant and sick-child care," Law said. "We will be limited to 14 children per shift, for three shifts a day."

According to Law, "The child care will be transitional, a place for families to receive high-quality care for their children while getting established in the community. Once they are settled, we will work with families at their request to find child care that may better suit their needs, closer to home. An additional feature to the proposed model is the provision of crisis nursery care when there are available slots."

The state of Minnesota has been looking for promising models for nonstandard-hour care, and employer-based child-care homes are on the leading edge of innovation.

"This model has all the elements to be replicated," Law said.

In a recent report from the McKnight Foundation, Nancy Okerlund, a child-care resource and referral consultant for the Minnesota Department of Children, Families and Learning wrote: "The match between families and child-care situations doesn’t happen easily. Parents, employers, providers and communities all have a hand in making it work. The reward in terms of families’ well-being and the vitality of the work force cannot be overstated."

The costs of providing nonstandard-hour care and other non-traditional types of child care, such as sick care, are the prime motivation for seeking employers to sponsor such a program. Current national estimates say that sick care can cost between $18 and $20 per hour.

Law said, "If employers were not willing to provide a financial subsidy, the cost to families for third-shift care, bilingual, and sick care would be prohibitive."

"We would not be able to undertake a project of this nature without the support of the employers, who are in great need of employees to work the second and third shifts," she said.

According to Law, one local employer lost 16 workers in the last six months directly related to child care.

"This project can address some of those needs," she said.

The Hormel Foundation has pledged up to $5 million of its fund to address affordable housing, child care, transportation and multicultural issues in the city. The Apex Austin organization is a collection of citizen volunteers studying needs and visioning solutions.

One of Austin’s most historic residences will be purchased to be used as the site of the first Apex project.

Samuel Doak Catherwood was the son of pioneers who crossed the country by wagon in the 1850s from Indiana and settled in the Moscow area.

Catherwood practiced law and became a judge. When he stepped down as a district judge, he again practiced law with Burton E. Hughes and Rollin C. Alderson. His son, Roger, later joined the firm.

Today, the law firm is the Alderson, Ondov, Leonard, Sween and Rizzi.

Judge S.D. Catherwood was George A. Hormel’s best friend and George A. and Lillian Hormel named their only child, a son, Jay Catherwood Hormel, after the judge.

Among the many business and civic posts held by Catherwood was as a director of the originally-named Geo. A. Hormel & Co. and one of the original members of the Hormel Foundation board of directors and its chairman.