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March 30, 1998

Grant allows Child Care Services to expand its offerings

Lise Bixler, director of UCSC Child Care Services, celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Children's Center last year with preschooler Ivy Clarke.

By Barbara McKenna

UCSC's Child Care Services is one of a handful of local child care centers to receive a major state grant to expand services to infants and toddlers. The grant, allocated through the California Department of Education (CDE) after a competitive process, is funding two programs at UCSC.

UCSC's Infant and Toddler Program has been awarded an annual grant of $56,312 to provide free and very low cost care for qualifying student parents (those with an income at or below 75 percent of the state median income). The program follows the academic calendar and serves UCSC student families, faculty, and staff. Parents who are interested in enrolling their children in the program should call as soon as possible, as fall enrollment will be conducted this spring. (Telephone numbers are provided below.)

CDE grant funds are also being allocated to the Granary Child Development Program's free State Preschool Program for children aged three to five years. The grant makes it possible for the program to expand from its former three-hour-per-day schedule to a full-day schedule for income-qualified families. The Granary Child Development Center is operated by an outside agency through a contract with UCSC. That agency is Child Development Centers, a private nonprofit child care agency based in Cupertino.

The grant program was launched last year by CDE's Child Development Division in response to the shortage of quality care for children under three years of age. The CDE program is funded through a $46 million state budget appropriation. Centers chosen to receive grants are those that presented proposals offering quality activities and services to meet the emotional, cognitive, linguistic, cultural, and physical needs of children and that also provide nutrition services, parent education and opportunities for parent involvement, staff development, and social services.

Along with providing funding for expanded child care services, the CDE is developing ways by which local communities can have an active voice in child care planning and in the appropriation and allocation of funds. To further this goal, individual planning councils have been established in each of California's 58 counties.

The local council, the Santa Cruz County Local Child Care Planning Council (LCCPC), is made up of 34 members, including Lise Bixler, director of UCSC Child Care Services. According to Bixler, the council has prepared the "Santa Cruz County Master Plan for Child Care and School Age Recreation Programs (1998-2003)," which was released on March 7.

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