More day care funding urged for low-income kids
By Pat Schneider, the Capital Times
November 17, 2005
Every kid deserves a piece of the pie.
That was the message Wednesday, when members of Dane County United joined with the Bright and Early Coalition to put out the message that more public money is needed to support quality child care programs for low-income families.
One half of Madison children enrolled in day care are in city-accredited programs, said Vernon Blackwell, a member of Dane County United, a grass-roots social justice advocacy group.
The number drops to one-quarter for low-income children, Blackwell said.
Dane County United has been working behind the scenes, building relationships with community groups to address the issue of early childhood care through a variety of strategies, from strengthening existing programs to exploring the possibility of kindergarten for 4-year-olds.
“This is something we have to address,” Blackwell said.
He and David Wolfe of Bright and Early, a public education initiative, demonstrated the disparities in access to quality child care at a press conference at Madison Area Technical College with an old-fashioned pie chart – a pair of real pumpkin pies carved up to show the disproportionate numbers of children in accredited programs.
The activists praised Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, who at their urging had restored early on $62,000 in proposed cuts to the city’s child care accreditation and subsidy programs.
Former MATC student Sarka Cobb told the group about how being able to place her daughter in an accredited program right at the college allowed her to complete training for the position as a registered nurse she now holds at St. Marys Hospital.
“These programs change people’s lives and, by changing people’s lives, change the community,” Blackwell said.
Cieslewicz said it becomes more difficult each year to sustain such programs because of dwindling federal and state funds.
“The federal government spends $6 billion a month on the war in Iraq,” Cieslewicz said. “If we took a small portion of that and invested in our own children, we’d be a lot better off.”
Every public dollar spent on early childhood care saves $7 later on in services that are not needed, he said.
Full story and GREAT photo at: http://www.madison.com/tct/mad/local//index.php?ntid=61944