The San Diego State Children’s Center could face between $360,000 to $390,000 in statewide budget cuts beginning in November.
The approved budget for the fiscal year 2012-13 recommends deep cuts across the board to all General Fund child care programs by a total of $50 million in an attempt to close the $15.7 billion budget gap, according to the California Child Development Administrators Association.
If voters reject ballot measures to raise California’s sales and income taxes on wealthy residents in Nov., more than $6 billion in trigger cuts will take effect, including those in child care.
The Children’s Center, which operates on approximately $2 million budget per year from Associated Students, would no longer be able to offer grants and tuition subsidies to low-income student parents in need of child care. Currently, about 90 percent of student parents pay partial or no tuition at the Children’s Center, according to A.S. Vice President of External Affairs Tom Rivera.
“Student parents would be forced to pay full tuition at the Children’s Center, which for a lot of student parents is just not feasible,” Rivera said.
Shauna MacDermot, a single parent who graduated from SDSU in May, used the Children’s Center to provide her two sons with child care during her three years at SDSU.
“There is absolutely no way I would have ever been able to graduate if it wouldn’t have been for the funding I received at the Children’s Center,” MacDermot said.
MacDermot would have had to spend approximately $1,600 per month for both of her children to register at the center while she attended school. “I would never have been able to afford that,” she said.
MacDermot was unemployed while she attended SDSU. With the responsibilities of being a full- time student and mom, full-time employment would have meant weekend child care resulting in more time away from her two boys.
Before learning from the Children’s Center, MacDermot “priced out about 10- 15 preschools in San Diego.”
“Nothing even compares,” she said, referring to the Children’s Center.
What sets it apart from many other child care services is the quality of care, according to Director of the SDSU Children’s Center Robin Judd.
The Children’s Center focuses on individualized learning through play. Children from infancy through kindergarten learn how to communicate their needs, Judd said.
Other skills, such as empathy, respect, the environment, math, concepts of space, creativity, design and writing are also part of the curriculum. The center also provides sociology, psychology and Exercise and Nutritional Sciences students and faculty the opportunities to conduct short-term research.
Currently, the Children’s Center provides services for an average of 200 children on any given day during an academic year. Approximately 30 percent are children of students at SDSU, though faculty and alumni enroll their children too, according to Judd.
“If the cuts were to go into place, we would see very few of these families who would be able to find alternative funds to pay for child care in order to stay in school,” Judd said. “We’ll be seeing young families eliminated from being able to go for the stars.”
Judd offered a different opinion regarding how the potential cuts could affect the quality of education.
“Here, our quality of education will never change. Our fee-paying families understand the value and we do everything we can, but it would drastically change our program and it could impact the number of services we provide the families,” Judd said.
Because the number of families at the Children’s Center would decrease, the services provided would follow suit, according to Judd. Otherwise, they would have to look to the community to close the gap and replace about 70 children.