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Child care conference is hot topic.

"Child care is best coordinated at the local level," according to noted child care authority, writer and publisher Roger Neugebauer, speaking at the recently concluded Congress of Cities in Las Vegas. Although the trends in child care are national in scope, they are confronting local government leaders in cities and towns of all sizes.

All of these communities are experiencing the difficulties associated with child care services delivered by various sponsors.

These sponsors range from small mom-and-pop operations to large for-profit chains to churches and other non-profit organizations. Regardless of sponsorship, low wages for high-qualified child care staff are the norm in all cities and towns.

In all communities, there is inadequate supply to meet the demand--especially the demand for school-age child care and for care of infants and toddlers. And the conclusion in all of them, according to a panel of Congress of Cities presenters, is to focus on local solutions. In addition to hearing from the panel of presenters, attendees had the opportunity to visit a model Las Vegas center.

Neugebauer, who publishes Child Care Information Exchange, the leading child care magazine in the nation, and three municipal child care coordinators provided attendees with eyewitness accounts of the most useful practices for local governments. The coordinators represented the large city of Los Angeles, the medium-sized city of Irvine, Calif., and the small city of Bell, Calif.

Los Angeles

City Child Care Coordinator Patricia Lane represented the City of Los Angeles, which earlier this year was ranked as one of the 15 best U.S. cities for child care. She provided a clear overview of the wide-ranging activities being undertaken by her city, which are based on a comprehensive City Child Care Policy adopted by the City Council in 1987.

The coordinator's office is located in the city Personnel Department. This location was chosen in part so that the city can respond easily to the child care needs of city employees and in so doing lead other Los Angeles employers by city government example. For instance, on-site child care centers have been established for city employees in City Hall and at the airport. In addition, the city's model employer efforts include child care fairs, noontime parenting seminars, child care information, and discounts at child care centers for city employees.

Increased supply of child care in Los Angeles has been assisted by a one-stop permit process, a reduced business tax rate for child care providers, and a low-interest loan fund for licensed family day care providers. In addition, an ordinance has been adopted to allow large family day care homes caring for six to twelve children to exist by right as a permitted used in areas zoned for single-family dwellings.

Irvine, California

Irvine (population 110,330) initiated its child care coordination office in 1984. Child Care Coordinator Nancy Noble expressed particular pride in the Irvine Child Care Project, which is this year's winner of the prestigious Putnam Award given by the League of California Cities. Through a joint powers agreement, the schools, the city recreation department, a major developer, and the business community have collaborated to provide modular school age child care facilities adjacent to or on the grounds of 14 elementary schools.

In addition, Noble reported on the child care resource office. This office provides parenting information, option for child care, and books and videotapes. The Irvine Kid-phone is a "warm line" for use by children in self care.

To increase the supply of child care, Irvine zoning law permits large family day care homes by right. In addition, it provides on-site child care for municipal employees at the civic center and on the campus of a local college.

Bell, a city of 25,450, is a community undergoing radical change. Its ethnic make-up is increasingly diverse. Its economic condition is in severe decline. Nevertheless, it is undergoing a master planning process that calls for major attention to the child care needs of community residents. These needs reflect the changing population and the goal of stimulating economic recovery. One clear goal of this process is to encourage and implement cooperation between the schools and the city government.

The planning process has included a survey of residents, the establishment of a city child care committee, and the creation of an interdepartmental child care team. The ultimate goal, according to city child care consultant Dennis Hudson, is to expand child car ein the city, especially for school age children.

Las Vegas Model Program

Las Vegas Mayor Jan Laverty Jones led Congress of Cities attendees on a tour of the Citibank Child Care Center. Serving nearly 200 children, it represents the commitment of Citibank to build an environment for its employees that makes it the best place to work. It is open from 5:45 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. each weekday and has slightly shorter hours of operation on Saturdays. Mayor Jones points proudly to this center as an example of business meeting the human service needs of city residents, of the corporate sector working with the local educational community, and of a strong effort to attract and retain the best and the brighest people in the work force.

These examples of local policies and practices reflect the strong interest of local governments in meeting the child care needs of residents. They are in concert with ongoing NLC efforts supporting increased municipal attentio to child care. Further information on these efforts is described in NLC's book, Caring for Children, which describes initiatives in 24 cities and towns. It is available from the NLC Publications Department, 1301 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20004; telephone (202) 626-3000.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:National League of Cities' Congress of Cities conference
Author:Kyle, John E.
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Dec 16, 1991
Previous Article:NLC officers for the year 1992.
Next Article:States, localities often at odds on same dilemma.

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