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Cuts coming to child care services provided by City of L.A.

February 23, 2010 |  2:04 pm

Child-care services provided by the city of Los Angeles will be scaled back dramatically by this summer as the city rushes to patch a $212-million shortfall. The move is one of the harsh realities facing city officials as they move toward eliminating as many as 4,000 city jobs to deal with a budget deficit that could grow to $1 billion within the next few years.

About 900 children are enrolled in the city’s 26 licensed child-care centers. While those programs cost the city more than $7 million annually, the city collects just $2 million, in part because officials charge an average of $250 per month.

“We are subsidizing excessively our program and we can’t afford to do that,” City Councilman Greig Smith said during a budget debate at City Hall on Tuesday. “… I don’t think we have a system that we’ve really proven is very effective. Some things government does well, some they don’t.”

Council President Eric Garcetti noted that the city’s services cover a fraction of the families in Los Angeles. “We took a lucky 1% or 2% of people who need child care and said ‘You’ve just won the lottery,’” he said. “Well in bad times, maybe that’s not the best approach.”

Recreation and Parks officials plan to shift their licensed child-care centers to facilities that are open for 15 hours a week instead of 40. Instead of offering full-time preschool and day care, officials said many operations would instead offer after-school and sports programs, in some cases partnering with adjacent recreation centers that offer those kinds of programs. 

The change will allow the parks department to meet the target set by city budget officials for eliminating 125 jobs as part of the city’s first 1,000 job cuts. Because some of the child-care positions are part time, about 132 city workers will be affected, parks officials said.

The preschools at Jim Gilliam Recreation Complex and at the Expo Center will continue to operate because they are funded through grants. Garcetti and Smith said the city should look for organizations willing to operate the city’s 24 other child-care centers.

-- Maeve Reston at Los Angeles City Hall


Photo: L.A. Times file of L.A.-area child care facility.

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