Private daycare better than none

By Gus Bode

For nearly 30 years, the City of Carbondale has operated the Eurma C. Hayes Childcare Center, providing families, especially those of limited means, with a safe and convenient place for children to spend the day while their parents work or attend school.

Early this year, cuts in state and federal funding, decreasing attendance and increasing costs put the center’s future in jeopardy by prompting the City Council to propose eliminating the center as a way to save money.

Following a public outcry, the council relented somewhat by agreeing to study alternatives to simply closing the center’s doors and forcing the families who use the service to find alternative childcare.


The city’s findings, which were released Friday, suggest three possible ways to deal with the problems involved in funding the center.

The first option is to simply eliminate all city funding to the center, effectively sounding the death knell for the program. That option is something few, if any, residents of Carbondale support, with good reason.

Another option, proposed by a mayoral panel that was formed to study the issue, calls for the city to maintain control over the child-care center and proposes a way for the center to operate as a “near break-even financial operation.”

This is an admirable proposal, in that it keeps the center open and maintains the city’s control over it.

The plan rests, however, upon the assumption that attendance would remain relatively steady, with a minor decrease in attendance resulting in a major increase in red ink. With recent attendance figures showing anything but a steady number of clients, this option seems to be an overly risky one.

That leaves the third option:providing use of the center, free of charge, to Haven of Love, Ltd., a private non-profit organization that would continue to provide child-care services at the center.

While none of the proposed options are perfect, we feel the privatization proposal is clearly the best of the three.


Under this plan, the center would be able to keep its doors open at a relatively insignificant cost to the city. Services would be maintained, and people who have come to rely on the center would not need to seek out other child-care arrangements.

On the surface, it appears that the city would have nothing to lose by privatizing the childcare center- it would remain operational at little cost to the city.

But the proposal does have a downside.

If the council decides to allow Haven of Love to take over the operation, 10 full-time and 17 part-time employees would be laid off. While those numbers may seem insignificant to those on the outside, they are not to the dedicated employees of the center who would be forced to find new work.

Haven of Love representatives have said that current employees of the center would be given consideration before new hires are made. We feel this is important in maintaining continuity at the center and in continuing long-standing relationships among the staff and clientele of the center, and we urge Haven of Love to do everything possible to follow through with this promise.

But whatever is done, the most important thing is continuing to provide access to quality, affordable childcare to the citizens of Carbondale.