The Child Development Center hangs in the balance

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The Skyline Child Development Center (CDC) is currently undergoing the Program Improvement and Viability (PIV) process, meaning that the future of the entire CDC program is uncertain.

Skyline College has been forced to make several cuts and other sacrifices due to a state-wide budget problem. Measures have already been taken in the form of voluntary retirements, which would save the district money on salaries, but this may not be enough.

“It’s probably strictly financial,” said Kate Williams-Browne with regards to why the center was being targeted. Browne is the coordinator for the Early Childhood Education (ECE) program which runs the CDC.

According to Browne, the CDC “gets its revenue from tuition and the state’s reimbursements.”

Browne said the problem is that educating young children simply costs more than what the state is willing to pay.

The CDC serves a necessary service to Skyline College as it acts as an onsite laboratory for childhood education students and allows them to receive course-required interaction with children in a local, easily accessible place. For these same reasons, the program is also an invaluable asset for any Skyline students or staff members with young children.

The PIV process is developing a list of programs that will either be continued, modified or improved, placed under hiatus, or simply removed altogether.

Christine Roumbanis of Skyline’s business division described the PIV process as a way to identify programs in case deeper cuts are needed.

“Recommendations from the PIV committee will be made by the end of November to the college budget, curriculum committee, academic senate, and the VPI (Vice President of Instruction Regina Stroud),” Roumbanis said.

“We understand cuts have to happen,” said Judy Heldburg, director of the CDC. Heldburg knows about the current situation the district faces but hopes that the CDC will not get cut.

As of Oct. 28, 50 children are enrolled at the CDC.

“Fifty percent of those enrolled here are from single parents, most of whom are mothers,” said Heldburg. Without the CDC, she says that many parents would have nowhere else to turn.

According to Heldburg, any parents with children enrolled at the CDC are low income students and the CDC not only provides them with affordable childcare, it allows them to continue their college careers and advance their lives. “Care in the real world costs $400-1200 a month.”

Heldburg says it simply requires a lot of money to take care of children. Last year, it cost $168,000 to pay the CDC staff’s benefits. Despite the fact that the CDC currently has this sizable budget, they still rely a considerable amount on donations of food and toys for children.

According to Heldburg, without the CDC, many students would have to drop out of school in order to care for their children, which would force them to remain at minimum wage deadend jobs, often working more than one job in order to simply survive.

The childcare center has been a part of the Skyline campus for over a decade, during which time many students and staff have found it to be an invaluable resource for their careers and lives.

“We need this center,” said Jennifer Blanco, a longtime Skyline student and parent. “If students such as I didn’t have this center, we wouldn’t be able to get a higher education and pursue degrees.”

In the past, Blanco has had two of her children attend the while she attended Skyline. She recently came back as a liberal arts major and hopes to transfer to SF State to attain an Early Childhood Education degree. She says without the CDC, none of this would have been possible for her.

Many parents with children in the CDC simply can’t afford any alternatives.

“I’m currently unemployed and I was laid off on June 15,” said Edwin, who has a son at the CDC and declined to state his last name. When asked what he would do if the CDC was closed down, he said that he would have no choice.

“The kid would have to stay home,” said Edwin. “I don’t know where I would go.”

Natalie Gamburt is one of the staff members at the CDC and has been there since 1998. She said that if the center were to close it would mean much more to her than simply losing her job.

“It would be so hard to say goodbye,” Gamburt said. “It’s not about looking for a job, it’s about family. It would be destroying the family.”