Extended care programs on chopping block

July 13, 2009 5:53:08 PM PDT
On the chopping block is an extended day care program which helps low-income working families. Without it, some parents would have to quit their jobs to take care of their children after school.

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For some working parents, centers like the Leo J. Ryan After-School Program in South San Francisco, offer day care over the summer.

"It's an educational program and our environment helps children to succeed and learn while their parents go to work and feel their children are safe," says Liliya Sergiyenko, the program director.

About 75 percent of these kids are here thanks to the state-funded latchkey program. During the school year, students can also enroll in the after-care program.

"So it's open in the morning before school, after school, most holidays and then all summer it becomes a full day program," says Nirmala Dillman from the San Mateo County Education office.

The latchkey program serves about 200 low-income children in San Mateo County and 13,000 statewide. By eliminating the program it would save California about $27 million.

Some Sacramento lawmakers are proposing doing away with the program in order to balance the budget.

"I would be at home by myself or my grandma's like for the entire time and if my grandmother didn't know something about my homework, I'd be stuck without doing my homework," says student Jose Martinez.

Astrid Slama works full-time. Without this program she would have no one to watch over her daughter Jessica.

"To me I'd rather quit my job than leave a 9-year-old by herself and then be faced with another choice of 'What am I going to do to provide for my daughter?'" says Slama.

Like Slama, there are many struggling parents who can't afford to pay for after-school care. They are hoping the latchkey program will be spared.

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