Owed nearly a million dollars from the California Department of Education over the past 18 months, the Golden State YMCA in Tulare County has announced it will close four day care/preschools this Friday, according to the Visalia Times-Delta --(tip from this morning's Early Education in the News, thanks to Paul Miller). The closings were announced four days after a monthly community meeting, "210 Connect," co-sponsored by the Presbyterian Church, discussed the need for child care in Tulare County. Partners with the Tulare County Office of Education, College of the Sequoias and the Visalia YMCA were on hand to discuss the roles of the community in providing child care and answer questions from families about their concerns.
Preschools closing include; the Visalia Main YMCA on Tulare Avenue, Whitendale Park YMCA on Beech Street, portions of the Park View YMCA on Mooney Boulevard and the Farmersville YMCA on Front Street....
Nearly 40 preschool teachers have been laid off as a result of the closures, and 219 children will be in need of other day care arrangements.
Tulare County's unemployment rate is pushing 20%, one of the highest rates in the nation. In California, the county ranks second in state child poverty rates (35% of 0-18 population lives below the poverty level). In Tulare, 10% of the population is under five years old (about 43,000 children using '09 statistics); state average is 7.5%.
Over the weekend, an interview with Rosemary Caso, director of the Visalia branch of the Tulare/Kings YMCA, was published in the Times-Delta "Viewpoint," an early-deadline media that did not reflect the closure accouncements. An excerpt:
Viewpoint: Has child care for young families, especially for preschool-age children, become a more pressing problem?
Caso: [Yes} because more families are either single- parent homes or both parents are working. They need care for their children, especially infants, which is very hard to find...
Viewpoint: What are options for young working parents...?
Caso: There are some options if the families qualify for the state certification program. The program bases the family's payment on income and family size. The problem with this state certification program is that reductions or talk of eliminations occur every year with the state budget.
Viewpoint: Do you have any estimates about what reliable, daily child care costs by the week?
Caso: Infants are much more expensive because the staff to child ratio is 3:1, whereas a preschooler at age 3 is 8:1. Infant care costs about $1,200 per month, about $57 per day for a full 10-hour day. When it is broken down to $5.70 an hour, it does not seem bad, but this does not cover all the costs. This is why infant care is so rare because it loses money.