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Child-care centers facing tough times

Molly Shore

A decision by the state to suspend funding for hundreds of child-care

programs throughout California could adversely affect some Burbank

families and private day-care centers.

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The California Supreme Court recently ruled the state could not

issue child-care payments as of July 1 -- the start of the fiscal

year -- without a budget in place.

Goldie Bemel, Burbank Unified’s director of child-development

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programs, said day-care centers operated by the school district that

are subsidized by the state could be in jeopardy if a budget is not

approved in the next couple of weeks.

The district’s programs include pre-school, general and

after-school child care at nine elementary schools.

“We still have some reserves,” Bemel said, adding that nobody is

immune if the state budget is not signed soon.

Although private, nonprofit day-care centers statewide will be

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most affected by the budget impasse, Bemel said most nonprofit child

care in the city is not funded by the state Department of Education.

The majority of the city’s private day-care centers are fully

subsidized through parent fees, Bemel said. Horace Mann Day Care,

which is operated by the school district, is parent-funded, she said.

Honeybunch Preschool on South Glenoaks Boulevard, is one private

day-care center that will be affected by the suspension of funding.

Owner Kay Rose, who has been in business for 19 years, intends to

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close the school Sept. 18, because the state cannot pay her the

$1,000 monthly subsidy she needs to keep it open.

“Now is the time to give it up because we can’t do it anymore,”

Rose said. “Our license is really clean and clear, but there’s not

enough money to survive.”

Rose, who accepts children between 2 and 5, is licensed to care

for 33 children.

Burbank resident Gabriella Szabo, whose 5-year-old son is enrolled

in A Rainbow School on West Burbank Boulevard, is not sure if she can

keep her child in day care.

Szabo, who works full time but is subsidized by the state for

child-care costs, said she hasn’t been told by the child-care center

whether the suspension of funding will affect her or others.

“Right now, it doesn’t seem that there is a concern on [the

owner’s] part, but if she ends up telling me something, I’d have to

take him out of school,” she said.

If that happens, Szabo said the boy’s grandmother would have to

care for him, which would create a hardship because she is ill.

“Yes, I am concerned,” Szabo said. “I’ve been praying that they

sign the budget, but you never know what’s going to happen.”

Michael Jett, director of the state Department of Education’s

child-development division, said his department can offer some help

to day-care centers.

“When they run out of money, if they don’t have reserves or can’t

secure a loan, we’ll write a letter to help them secure a loan,” Jett

said. “Otherwise, they will have to shut their doors.”

Parents will be faced with a difficult decision, Jett said. They

will have to find alternative care quickly, but if they cannot find

care, they might have to stay home from work or go to work, leaving

their children in latchkey situations.

“Obviously, that’s a concern to us,” Jett said.


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