Embattled child care groups take to the streets

Legislative leaders and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger say they’ve reached agreement on the framework for a budget deal that could be brought to a vote as early as next week.

And Bay Area child development centers say they’d damned well better see it through.

Agencies are taking to the streets next Wednesday, Sept. 29 for a march and rally to highlight how state-funded childcare agencies across California are scrambling to survive; the state hasn’t paid them since July 1, and their reserves and credit lines are quickly running out. And for many parents, no childcare means no work.

4C’s of Alameda County, BAHIA Inc., Bananas Inc., Child Care Links, Emergency Shelter Program, Estrella Family Services, Martinez Early Childhood Center, Parent Voices, San Jose Day Nursery and others will participate in the event, starting with an 8 a.m. march of an estimated 1,000 people along Mission Blvd. in Fremont, from the Fremont Sports Complex and to Fremont BART. These childcare providers, teachers, administrators, parents and children will then take BART to downtown Oakland for a noon rally at the Elihu M. Harris State Building on Clay Street.

Fremont-based Kidango is taking it a step further by actually closing its 41 child development centers in 10 Bay Area cities next Wednesday.

This “Closure for a Cause” is “a drastic action, as it interrupts the continuity of care of over 2,000 children and their families and incurs additional costs for the agency,” Kidango said in its news release. “Additionally, the private sector will be impacted, as parents will not be able to attend work, without their childcare. Kidango believes that drastic action is needed, as the voice of the childcare industry must be heard by the Sacramento politicians who are holding the most vulnerable people in California hostage.”

The situation is dire. BAHIA, one of the East Bay’s only Spanish bilingual child care programs, announced to parents this week that it would close on October 15 if a budget isn’t passed. And Oakland’s 24-Hour Child Development Center might be done sooner than that.

“And, by the way, the state child care licensing system has severely curtailed their activities and will no longer be accepting new applications from centers or family child care providers who want to get licensed to do child care,” said Arlyce Currie, program director at Bananas Inc., Northern Alameda County’s child care resource and referral service since 1973. “The infrastructure is crumbling.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.