With the future of the Bent County Early Learning Center uncertain, people gathered at the Las Animas Elementary school Wednesday to discuss the benefits of having the center.

Otero County Sheriff Shawn Mobley participated in the workshop, speaking about the impact the learning center has had on his family’s life. He said that it’s hard for him to trust people with his children, but he trusts the staff at the early learning center.

“I’ve seen the staff there handle some situations that I’ve had to deal with myself, I’ve even had to do CPR on my daughter. But I implicitly trust the staff there,” said Mobley.

Mobley spoke about how his daughter has a very rare genetic disorder and the work of the staff has done with her is a big reason why Mobley voiced his support for the learning center. He said that she’s learned a lot and is happy when she comes home due to the interactions, she receives via the early learning center.

The lack of options around the Arkansas Valley is another reason Mobley spoke about his decision to choose the Bent County Early Learning Center for his daughter. He said that when looking at other options around the Otero and Bent County some of the daycares wouldn’t even touch his daughter.

“Quite frankly there’s no place in Otero County, which is another reason why we bring her here,” Mobley said.

With many daycares across the valley at capacity, parents talked about how before they came across the Bent County Early Learning Center, they had difficulties enrolling their children in other programs.

Also discussed was the benefit of having the ability for parents to work due to the existence of the early learning center. One parent said that she would need to stay at home with her children during the day if the center didn’t exist.

“Childcare enables parents to go out and work,” said Executive Director of the Bent County Development Foundation Sammie George.

George went on to say that many places of employment won’t allow parents to bring their children to work or allow them to work from home, which prevents them from working. She said that one of the biggest impacts the center has on the community is that it facilitates employment. She said this because it creates jobs for teachers at the center itself and the opportunity to work for parents who have children enrolled in the program.

“We’re done before 2020 when there’s no more money coming in,” Omer Tamir, executive director of Bent County Public Health and parent said, “I’m doing a cost benefit analysis in my head and we can’t afford to lose it.”

Multiple discussion about how to help keep the center running are scheduled to take place this month. The next workshop is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Bent County Senor Center.

jconlan@ljtdmail.com