Haven Can’t Wait : Low-Cost Day-Care Center Short of Funds


As two boys scrambled atop colorful playground equipment nearby, Diane Prado, 8, told why children enjoy coming each day to Pride Development Council’s day-care center.

“There’s lots of fun things to play with, and they take care of me” here, Diane said.

But Diane and her classmates may soon lose this after-school haven, where she is fed, supervised and feels safe. The subsidized day-care center, in the city’s lowest-income neighborhood, is struggling to stay open after a second year of sharp public-funding cuts.

Pride Development founder Dorothy Lewter Davis said this week that unless she can raise more than $80,000 soon, she may have to close the 17-year-old center by the end of the year.


As a result, Diane and about 90 other children from the ages of 2 to 14 may lose the only day care their families can afford, she said.

“I feel real bad. I feel like the dream I had is gone,” Davis said.

Last month, Davis received $13,000 in block-grant funding after she made a vigorous appeal to the City Council on behalf of her nonprofit center. The grant falls far short of the $65,000 she requested. In 1992, the city allocated about $45,000 to the center and reduced the funding to $17,500 last year.

“We’re having financial trouble because they’re not giving me the money I need to serve the clientele I have. To pull the money out of our school is to set us up for failure,” she said.

However, city officials said they have done all they can to help the center and emphasized that there is simply not enough money to fund all the worthy community service programs nonprofit organizations that serve the area. A city commission, created to arbitrate among all the worthy applicants, had recommended against providing any funds to the child-care center.

The Pride Development day-care program costs about $250,000 a year to run, and its budget is paid through donations, student tuition and grants. Right now, the center needs money to pay for liability insurance, fix its buses, pay teachers’ salaries and buy food for the children, Davis said.

Davis, a single mother, created the day-care center to offer opportunity to predominantly low-income single parents saddled by family responsibilities that often keep them locked in a cycle of poverty.



The center, in a converted three-bedroom home on Sullivan Street, mostly serves children from the immediate neighborhood, but also uses its own buses to shuttle youngsters in from as far as Brea.

Currently, Pride Development offers children supervised activities Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and three meals a day. Children go on daily field trips, including excursions to libraries, museums and roller skating rinks. While many day-care centers charge $90 or more a week per child, Pride Development charges about $50 or less, depending on a parent’s ability to pay, Davis said.

One recent morning, several youngsters scurried across the playground while others stayed indoors, toying with colored plastic blocks on a classroom floor. During a break from her play, Diedre Lewis, 9, of Garden Grove said she was worried about the center’s future and her own.

At the center, she is seldom bored and always has friends. If it were to close, “I’d be mad. I’d just be at home not doing anything,” she said.

That’s what worries Davis most. Children left unsupervised with nothing to do are vulnerable to child molestation, kidnaping and other crimes. They are even more vulnerable to gangs, drugs and early pregnancies, she said.

Pride Development teacher Nancy Nguyen urged community members and businesses to support the center with donations and through volunteer work.


“The children are the future for us, and if we don’t teach them at a young age, they won’t have a bright future. They won’t know how to set goals and be a better person,” unless they learn from caring adults, she said.

People interested in volunteering can call (714) 543-2528. Donations may be sent to Pride Development Council Inc., 803 S. Sullivan St., Santa Ana, Calif. 92704.