For the week of April 28, 1999  thru May 4, 1999  

Hailey’s Kim Frank wins National Head Start Fellowship


By HANS IBOLD
Express Staff Writer

In August, Blaine County will lose one of its most staunch child-care advocates, Kim Frank, coordinator of Blaine County’s child-care referral service, Child Care Link. Frank will be moving to Washington, D.C.

But fortunately for the county’s children, Frank is heading east to pursue a year-long National Head Start Fellowship and, armed with the knowledge she gleans as a fellow, will be back.

One of ten national recipients of the fellowship, Frank had to complete an in-depth application, write several essays and undergo a rigorous interview process in Washington, D.C.

Fellowships were awarded based on career accomplishments and on the potential for professional achievement in the field of early childhood education and family services.

Doubtless, Frank has already fulfilled that potential in Blaine County.

A crusader for quality child-care, Frank developed the Child Care Link program in Hailey, which not only links providers and parents, it provides educational resources on child development to the community.

Through the Idaho Child Care Program, Frank has helped find ways for the region’s low-income families to pay for child care.

Frank has also been crusading for children in city hall, leading a coalition of Blaine County residents who have been lobbying the city of Hailey for stricter guidelines on child-care providers.

That effort seems to be paying off. The Hailey City Council passed a resolution this month supporting the need for higher-quality child care in the city and will likely consider an ordinance in June.

As a fellow, Frank will serve as a special assistant to senior managers, policy makers, educators and researchers in the federal government. She will write position papers, review research findings and proposed legislation, chair meetings, assist with policy analysis and participate in educational symposiums with nationally known early childhood educators.

Frank will also be given an opportunity to link up with the child development leader of her choice.

Frank hopes to meet with one of her heroes, Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund.

"She started some of the strongest advocacy agencies for children," Frank said. "I really admire her."

It is the goal of the fellowship program to return fellows to their states with current knowledge in the field of child development, whether they are associated with Head Start or any other child-development center.

"I definitely want to return to the Wood River Valley," Frank said.

Assuring Frank’s return to Idaho are her fiancee, Andrew Kirk, and her two Golden Retrievers, Scout and Bonk, who will all be staying behind in Hailey.

"When I was accepted, I told my fiancee I wasn’t going," Frank said. "But he insisted that I go. I feel really lucky to have his support."

Frank will take a break from fellowship work so she can return to Idaho to marry Kirk as planned in October.

Also lingering in south-central Idaho and luring her back is the state of child care here, which "needs some serious work," Frank said.

Lax child-care standards across the state and in Blaine County have Frank a little peeved.

"When it comes to quality care, we stink," Frank said.

Frank points out that there is quality care provided locally, but there have been tragedies because of the lax standards.

"It’s a recipe for disaster," she said.

Frank has a recipe for change, which she hopes to perfect in Washington and bring back to Idaho.

"I want to use the research I do to change attitudes back at home," Frank said. "There needs to be a fundamental shift in the way people look at early childhood care and development."

Part of her scholarly work will be focused on cognitive development in early childhood, especially on the development of empathy.

Empathy cannot be underestimated in child development, Frank said.

"If it’s not addressed or cultivated then, children will never have it," Frank said.

Armed with the latest research, Kim hopes to return to the state "that stinks" and convince child-care providers, legislators and parents how critically important early child-care is.

 

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