The Utah Family-to-Family Project, which will be run by a private, non-profit child-care referral program, has received a $245,000 grant from the Mervyn's/Dayton Hudson Foundation.

The grant, part of a nationwide effort to improve family child care by the department store chain, will be administered by the Child Care Connection program of the Children's Service Society of Utah.Salt Lake Community College, the state Office of Child Care and the Professional Family Child Care Association will also help improve both the quantity and quality of family child-care providers in the state.

"There is no more important investment than the young people of our state," Gov. Norm Bangerter said before accepting a check from Mervyn's during a press conference Thursday.

The money will actually be distributed in three separate allotments over the next three years: $118,762 this year, $106,552 in 1992 and $19,922 in 1993.

The Family-to-Family Project includes a 14-week training program for family child-care providers along the Wasatch Front. It will be offered three times a year by Salt Lake Community College for a nominal fee.

The project also calls for Child Care Connection to help family child-care providers meet national accreditation standards, which include peer review and parental involvement as well as training.

The goal of the project is for 500 new and current child-care providers to go through the Salt Lake Community College training program and for 60 of those providers to become accredited.

Utah's Office of Child Care, part of the state Department of Community and Economic Development, is charged with developing a media campaign to teach parents about quality in child care.

The Professional Family Child Care Association's role in the project is to recruit child-care providers as well as help the state Office of Child Care develop the media campaign.

John Ericson, manager of the Mervyn's in the Brickyard Plaza, said the department store chain's employees are better served by family child-care providers rather than on-site day-care centers.

Ericson said that is because Mervyn's employees tend to be scattered throughout an area where a store is located and work a variety of hours and shifts.

Employees of Utah Mervyn's stores will not receive any direct benefit from the grant, although they, like other residents, will be able to call the Child Care Connection for referral information.

The Mervyn's/Dayton Hudson Foundation has dedicated a total of $3.7 million over a four-year period ending this year to Family-to-Family programs in 15 communities in several states, including California, Colorado and Arizona.