Categories: Bay Area Peninsula

Menlo Park seeking bids to run its child care centers

After public outcry over a proposal to privatize city-run child care centers, the City Council is looking for ways to at least stop subsidizing those centers.

In budget talks Wednesday, the council agreed to court bidders who would take over the city’s child care services. In the meantime, the city plans to raise fees at city-run centers by 22.5 percent by winter, according to City Councilmember Lee Duboc.

Currently, the city charges $748 to $1,682 per month for enrollment in its centers, which cater to toddlers, preschoolers and school-age kids. The city’s contribution is estimated at $444,000. Even with the increases, user fees won’t fully cover operating costs, according to Assistant City Manager Audrey Seymour.

“People want to look at stopping the subsidization,” Duboc said, adding that some parents who pay for private child care are unhappy that their tax money funds city-run centers.

However, many fear that outsourcing operations of those centers won’t benefit the kids. City-run centers currently provide 93 percent of Menlo Park’s spaces for school-age children, according to Sarah Johnson, resource and referral manager for the Child Care Coordinating Council of San Mateo County.

“Private companies tend to convert those spaces to preschool spaces because they’re more profitable,” Johnson said.

Menlo Park has 1,175 slots in 23 child care centers, 14 of which are private.

Private companies have a higher employee turnover rate because they offer lesser salaries and lesser benefits, according to Albert Carlson, field researcher with Service Employees International Union Local 715, which represents the centers’ 16 full- and part-time employees.

For that reason, “we feel privatizing it would hurt children,” Carlson said.

While many parents and officials oppose outsourcing, others who submitted letters to the City Council or attended the meeting said they favor any option that provides quality care at the lowest possible cost.

Currently, the program is seeking full accreditation to give ita better shot at the contract, according to Community Services Director Michael Taylor.

One company that won’t be competing is Children’s Creative Learning Center, whose initial interest in taking over Menlo Park’s city-run child care sparked the privatization debate.

“We realized the consensus was to keep things as is,” CCLC co-founder Ty Durekas said.

Menlo Park, facing a $2.9 million deficit, will adopt its budget in June.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

SF Examiner
Share
Published by
SF Examiner

Recent Posts

Flashy stunts, sketchy story in Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Volta’

At the outset of “Volta,” the Cirque du Soleil show now under the big top in San Francisco, a lively…

56 mins ago

Family members launch GoFundMe for Chinatown woman killed in fatal collision

Family members of a woman killed while crossing the street in San Francisco’s Chinatown earlier this month have launched a…

1 hour ago

San Francisco Dons men’s basketball postpones clash with Arizona State

Friday's University of San Francisco men's basketball game against Arizona State, slated for a 6:00 p.m. tip, has been postponed due…

2 hours ago

SF Preps: San Francisco Section postpones semifinal football games to Saturday due to air quality

The San Francisco Section has officially postponed its two semifinal football games yet again. After having already moved the games…

5 hours ago

Golden State Warriors drop fourth loss of the year as Draymond Green returns

By C.J. Peterson Special to S.F. Examiner Pushing the ball down court on a fast break opportunity in the first…

13 hours ago

The number of missing people in Butte County fire jumps dramatically to 631

The death toll from the devastating Camp fire in Northern California jumped to 63 on Thursday as search crews recovered…

15 hours ago