Culver City, Santa Monica Focus on Latchkey Children : School Districts Get Funds for Day Care

Times Staff Writer

The Culver City and Santa Monica-Malibu Unified school districts will receive $100,000 each in state funds to set up day-care programs for latchkey children.

Both programs received state Department of Education approval last month. The funding is part of $16 million appropriated last year in Senate Bill 303, which was authored by state Sen. David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles).

The Culver City and Santa Monica-Malibu districts are among 44 public and private agencies in the county receiving nearly $5 million in state funds.

Holiday Programs

Both districts plan to begin child care next month. Each district will also operate full day-care programs during the summer and during the Christmas and Easter holidays.

Barbara Blakley, the director of Santa Monica's Child Care Centers, said the program will help poor and working-class parents.

"What we find is that there are often two reasons why children become latchkey kids," she said. "Either parents cannot afford child care, or they can afford it but they cannot find it."

Culver City and Santa Monica-Malibu plan to care for about 120 students each. In both programs, half the students will receive a state subsidy and the rest will pay the full cost of $7 a day.

Santa Monica will operate child-care programs at four of its elementary schools--Edison, Grant, Roosevelt and McKinley. The district also plans to operate two other programs, including one for 240 children, in the district's voluntary integration program and another for 150 students whose parents have low incomes.

"This new program will expand our ability to provide day care," Blakley said.

Terry Tyor, director of Culver City's Children's Center, said Culver City will operate programs at each of the district's four schools using teachers and senior citizen volunteers. She said the Culver City program will also utilize the city's library, swimming pool and parks.

Survey of Needs

In applying for state funds, each district had to survey parents to determine the need for child care in the community. Parents in both cities said they wanted child care, but many said they could not pay for it.

Culver City's student survey received 674 requests for child care. The survey in the Santa Monica-Malibu district showed a need for day care for about 1,800 school-aged children.

According to the Senate Office of Research, between 600,000 and 800,000 children in California are left alone each day while their parents are working.

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