State budget cuts pose threat to affordable child care 

While Maria Haydee Donaire works at City College of San Francisco toward her goal of becoming a preschool teacher, her 4-year-old son Gabriel is receiving an education of his own at the Leo J. Ryan Child Development Center in South San Francisco.

But while Haydee Donaire is less than a year from completing her associates degree in child development studies, her son’s education is in jeopardy due to budget cuts.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget for the upcoming year would inflict a 35 percent, or $716 million, cut to the State Education Department’s Child Development and Care programs. The reduction would have a severe impact on child development care programs within the county.

“It would be catastrophic for a lot of people,” Haydee Donaire said, citing the many low-income families, including her own, that wouldn’t be able to afford child care without assistance. “Gabriel has been thriving and learning a lot. It would be detrimental to his growth, development and well-being.”

According to San Mateo County’s Child Care Partnership Council, 2,500 children would lose care, prompting the closure of many Peninsula child development centers. The council estimates that these cuts would result in 3,000 jobs lost. The jobs wouldn’t just include workers in child care centers, but parents that might have to quit work to look after their children, said Peter Burchyns, a special advisor to the superintentendent at the County Office of Education.

Depending on the age of the children, families could end up spending $200 to $350 more per child per month, said Peninsula Family Service President Laurie Wishard, whose nonprofit encompasses the Leo J. Ryan center.

“That may not seem like too much, but for a family that makes $1,500 a month ... it’s totally unaffordable,” Wishard said.

Peninsula Family Service would annually lose $750,000 of its total $9.5 million budget, Wishard said.

The Child Care Coordinating Council, another county organization that has been providing low income families with affordable child care services since 1972, would probably be forced to close its doors, Burchyns said.

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