SAN FRANCISCO, March 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Joy Dunham is a young single mother who works at a dry cleaner in Sonoma, California. Her take-home pay is only $1,000 a month. That isn't much money for a single parent struggling to raise two young sons, ages 5 and 12. Paying for full-time child care would take Joy's entire salary, leaving her with nothing to live on. Joy is one of the lucky families. Her sons David and Travis attend Sonoma Charter School, one of more than 1,000 schools affiliated with the non-profit, Professional Association for Childhood Education (PACE).
If there are further cuts to state funded education programs, Joy says, "I would be forced to quit my job, stay at home and live on welfare. I am eternally grateful to the Professional Association for Childhood Education Alternative Payment Program (PACEAPP). I don't know where I would be without them".
Since 2008-2009 there has been a decrease in funding to early childhood education and care programs funded by California Department of Education (CDE) by $985 million, a 31% decrease. Approximately one-quarter, or 110,000 of the subsidized slots for children have been eliminated. Cuts to these programs affect parents like Joy.
Help has come this month from the California Assembly with $10 million in funding that gives working parents the ability to send their children to safe and stable early education programs. "Thousands of families across the state face a Catch-22--go to work to support their children who have to then fend for themselves or lose their jobs so they can take care of their children," said Speaker John A. Pérez.
The money will go toward Stage 3 child care programs, which are reserved for parents who transitioned from assistance to full-time employment and who are taxpayers, but don't make enough money to send their children to child care.
Giuliana Halasz, CEO of PACEAPP applauds this action, "The funding is a step in the right direction. It is the first step to stabilize Stage 3. It is now a vital time to maintain the programs so the positive ripple effect we are seeing from family to family continues. Lives are changing and the cycle of disadvantage is breaking."
"It is our pleasure, and it is very rewarding to help families gain control and establish their independence. The programs are statistically producing a valuable workforce--young boys and girls transitioning into productive men and women. This is our future. We cannot stop now," maintains Halasz.
The issue is of such value and concern that President Obama included it in the most recent State of the Union address. He zeroed in on the margins, targeting the oldest and youngest members of the country's education system, encouraging the youngest to follow their dreams, and affirming that with an education those dreams can be realized.
President Obama stated, "I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America. Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than seven dollars later on."
PACE will be watching closely to ensure that continued funding for early care and education remains a high priority with all key decision makers.
About PACE (www.pacenet.org):
The Professional Association for Childhood Education (PACE) is a non-profit, California statewide organization established in 1955 to advance the profession of childhood education. PACE members operate in excess of 1,000 centers, serving more than 55,000 children in California. PACE members make a significant difference for educators, families, and children, ultimately affecting our future.
Zanides Public Relations
SOURCE The Professional Association for Childhood Education (PACE)