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Rainbow's End, SITS may team up to serve parents, children

July 30, 2008
Blue River Services Inc. and Rainbow's End Child Care are looking to co-promote each other by making residents of Crawford aware of the not-for-profit services that provide the community with affordable child care and public transportation.

Southern Indiana Transit System (SITS), a facet of Blue River Services, wants the community to know that is available to transport kids to and from the Rainbow's End facility in Marengo, also a venture of BRS, for Crawford parents with hectic schedules and time-demanding jobs.

Above is a freshly waxed SITS bus waiting for passengers. The bus features tinted windows, air conditioning and heat and comfortable seating for a trip. Blue River Services, which manages SITS, is considering transporting children to and from its Rainbow's End Child Care center in Marengo. (Photo by Nick Simpson)
"We're trying to meet the needs of the community," Roland Lemus, regional director of transportation for SITS, said.

Rainbow's End has facilities all over Southern Indiana, and the one in Marengo is licensed for up to 50 kids, so there is still room for enrollment for children of ages 2 to 12.

The center offers a place where children can have fun while receiving educational services that prepare the younger kids for elementary school and help the children already in school stay on the ball during the summer.

In addition to teaching and recreation, Rainbow's End offers an food program that is included in the fee. There is a cook at the center that prepares breakfast and lunch for the kids as well as three snacks.

Currently, Rainbow's End is following an Indiana initiative to take part in the Path to Quality, a state-run program that provides a grading system for child care services.

At this point, the system is purely voluntary, but Rainbow's End has already signed up.

The Path to Quality is made of four levels that the facility will be graded on by the state. In order to move up a level, the facility must meet all the requirements of the previous level. As each level is obtained, the facility receives a star that can be placed on the entrance so that parents can determine how well their children will be served at the particular facility.

The four levels are:

•Level One — Health and safety needs of children met.

•Level Two — Environment supports children's learning.

•Level Three — Planned curriculum guides child development and school readiness.

•Level Four — National accreditation (the highest indicator of quality) is achieved.

The Marengo Rainbow's End building is also home to the offices of Crawford County WIC and the Crawford Healthy Families Department. SITS can provide transportation for those in the community participating in these programs, as well.

Currently, SITS provides cheap public transportation for people all over Crawford, Harrison, Washington and Scott counties, but even with an increase in ridership, 17,000 riders for the second quarter of this year alone, Lemus still thinks there are a lot of people out there who could be utilizing this public service who aren't, especially within Crawford County.

"People need to understand that it's their system," he said. "It's not just for the elderly or folks with special needs."

Lemus believes it may be "old-fashioned habits," such as having a family member or neighbor drive them everywhere, that keep many people from using SITS. He also believes there is an immediate association of city buses and urban culture with public transportation. The idea of a rural public transit system is not a thought that crosses many people's minds.

Lemus thinks people need to be made more aware of SITS's existence and realize that public transportation does come to the country, no matter how far off the main roads.

Since SITS is a rural transport service, it has to operate differently than a city bus service. It functions on a Demand/Response system. People who need a ride simply call into a dispatcher, preferably 48 to 72 hours prior to when the service is needed, and they will work the person into the schedule. Same-day pick-ups are possible in some cases if the schedule is not completely full for that day.

SITS may sound like a taxi cab service in this regard, but Lemus quickly noted that the cost is much cheaper than that of a taxi. The reason for this is SITS is a not-for-profit program that receives funding from state and local governments. The prices are on a set scale that begin at $4 for a trip up to 10 mile trips and go up from there.

There are currently six buses that serve the local community, but if the demand rises, there is usually room in the budget for more.

All the buses are constantly maintained and cleaned by their drivers. Each bus is state approved and comes equipped with climate controlled air conditioning and heat.

The drivers themselves are also state approved with a Department of Transportation certification. All of them know CPR and First Aid, and each bus comes equipped with a first aid kit.

While SITS does serve the general public, special occasions call for special rules. For safety reasons, adults are not transported on the same bus as children on field trips or routine pick-ups and drop-offs from school or day care.

For further information on Blue River Services or SITS, contact Roland Lemus at 734-1000. For more information on Rainbow's End Child Care, contact Julia Baylor at 738-4971.

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