Platform : The Trials of Day Care for the Nanny-Less : JANICE WHITE / Home health care aide, Los Angeles

Compiled for The Times by Trin Yarborough

Last year I found myself homeless, with four children. I get AFDC but I didn't have enough for first and last months' rent to be able to move when I had to. I asked my mother to keep my 13-year-old and 8-year-old for a while and took my 5-year-old and 3-year-old to live with me in a shelter for 2 1/2 months. Younger children aren't affected as much. All they know is Mommy's there, so they'll be OK.

I'm a recovering alcoholic. I wanted to make something of my life. All my life I'd stayed home and taken care of my children, but I wanted to go to school. I went to the Assistance League Day Care Center in Hollywood and explained my situation to the director, Dr. Mary London, and she was a tremendous help to me. The Assistance League gave me a half-scholarship so my 3-year-old could be in day care and my 5-year-old in their Children's Club. After kindergarten, the club buses kids to their center. With the half-scholarship I paid $240 per month for both kids, which includes breakfast, lunch and snacks. After four months I was able to get this free under GAIN (Greater Avenues for Independence, a state program that pays for child care for AFDC recipients getting job training).

In the shelter I got up at 4 a.m., took the 6 a.m. bus to put the two kids in school and day care, then took an hour-and-a-half bus ride to the Community Home Health Training Program in South-Central. I've turned my life around. I've been clean now for nine months. I'm going to Trade Tech to get a Licensed Vocational Nurse degree and I was able to save money and move into an apartment through Section 8, which helps poor people get low-cost housing.

The government should have an after-school program for younger children whose parents have to work. It's hard for young kids to go home to an empty house. And it's hard to work if you don't know if your children are safe. Until I was able to have day care I had no alternative but to stay home with my children.

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