Last week, an editorial in the local paper by Donita Stromgren and nine others questioned the loss of child care service programs “that have been a stable part of city services for more than 40 years.”
They write, “We are writing on behalf of a group of early childhood advocates who worked tirelessly for many years in Davis and Yolo County to bring forward child care services and support and enhance the quality of services provided. We are outraged to learn that without benefit of any public forum or transparency, the city of Davis eliminated a long-term and important service.
“We are further dismayed that during the transition to a new administrative entity, which took effect on July 1, families and child care providers in Davis and Yolo County have limited access to critically important child care support.”
The authors contend, “About 18 months ago, the city decided to return all these funds to the state Department of Education and discontinue administering the child care services. However, it did not inform the CDE until February 2015, which offered little time for a thoughtful and smooth transition of services.”
The subject was never discussed at a city council meeting, they continued. Ms. Stromgren, et al, ask, “So what happened to these services? Who even knows they are gone? Where do families and child care providers turn if they need assistance?”
The problem that the city faced was that child care funding was dropping to the point where the city was losing money on it. It is not that the program disappeared, it is that the program was given back to the county, which, as an administrator of social services, would make a lot of sense.
The question may be one of how the program was transitioned.
Nevertheless, earlier this week, Stacey Winton, who is the Media and Communications Officer in the City Manager’s office, sent out a response.
She wrote, “Recently, an op-ed piece printed in the Davis Enterprise has generated confusion in the community about the existence and provision of Child Care Services, a state- and county-funded program to provide child care payment assistance to low-income Yolo County residents, as well as resource and referral information about child care services throughout Yolo County. The City of Davis formerly managed these contracts.
“First and foremost, no services have been terminated,” she clarified. As of July 1, the State of California and Yolo County transferred the child care subsidy and resource and referral contract services from the City of Davis to Child Action, Inc. and Children’s Home Society of California. Child Action, Inc. and Children’s Home Society of California were selected as the new providers by Yolo County and the State of California after a Request of Proposals process.”
Stacey Winton writes:
While for many decades the City was designated as the contracted service provider by Yolo County and the State of California Department of Education, the effect of State funding reductions over the last six years caused the City to reevaluate its ability to provide the service according to program requirements. In early 2014, the City began conversations with the County and State to transition the services to new providers to ensure the continuation of services for eligible Yolo County residents. Both of the new providers have extensive experience with provision of the types of services required by the contracts.
In working with Yolo County and the State of California to inform clients on the transition of services, every licensed child care facility in Yolo County received information on the new service providers. In addition every existing family and child care provider that was utilizing Child Care Services received information from the City and from the new service providers. The City worked diligently to inform clients about the transition to ensure clients understood their services were still intact and to inform clients of the new contact information for the new providers. The City has continued to provide transition support to families, providers, Child Action, Inc. and Children’s Home Society throughout the entire process. Although the county-wide services are no longer housed with the City, they are available in Yolo County. Over the last six months city staff also attended the Yolo County Child Care Planning Council meetings, First 5 Family Focus Forum, met with the Yolo County Library, Family Resource Centers, and attended other meetings to assist in informing other agencies in Yolo County about the transition.
Finally, it should be noted that the services provided are countywide; they are not solely for Davis residents. In fact, most of the need for the services has historically been in other Yolo communities outside of Davis. Child Action is occupying the same space the City vacated in Woodland and West Sacramento; Children’s Home Society will have established a physical presence within Yolo County by September 1, as is required by their contract with the State.
For more information about available services, the following is contact information for the new service providers:
Children’s Home Society of California is the provider of Resource and Referral Information and child care payment assistance in Yolo County. For Resource and Referral information call (800) 552-0400 or (530) 645-6265. For assistance with paying for child care, call (530) 645-6266. Children’s Home Society of California can also be reached via email at CHSYoloCounty@chs-cs.org.
Information about the new service providers can also be found on the City website at http://www.cityofdavis.org/city-hall/child-care-services
The City of Davis valued the opportunity to provide worthwhile services for all of Yolo County for over 40 years. We are likewise confident that the two new providers will meet the same standards of excellence achieved by the City, and we look forward to their service to Yolo County residents.
—David M. Greenwald reporting