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W.Va. funds day care for low-income kids

December 02, 1998|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A total of $137,500 in grants have been awarded to 21 child day care centers in Jefferson and Berkeley Counties who care for children who get assistance from the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

Many of the children whose care is subsidized by the state are from low-income families, officials said.

Due to welfare reform, members of the low-income families are trying to make the transition from welfare assistance to employment.

To allow the families to concentrate on their job searches, the state subsidizes the day care for their children.

To improve the quality of day care, Gov. Cecil Underwood has awarded $1.74 million in grants to 226 licensed day care centers in the state.

A minimum of $5,000 was awarded to any center that applied, and an additional $2,500 was awarded to any center that had never received money through the program, acccording to the governor's office.

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In Berkeley County, 14 day care centers received grants, and in Jefferson County, six centers were funded.

At Noah's Ark day care center in Ranson, a $10,000 grant will be used to build an infant care room to take care of babies as young as six weeks, said center owner Bonnie Muck.

Muck said it is common for parents to be forced back to work soon after the birth of a child. Before the infant care center was opened at Noah's Ark, 18 families were on a waiting list for infant care, said Muck.

Without the grant, Muck said she could not affort to set up the infant care center.

"It's a big help to the community," she said. "It really is."

The money was used to buy cribs, changing tables, toys and other items, Muck said.

St. Joseph's Day Care Center in Martinsburg, which received a $5,000 grant, will use the money to buy sleeping cots for children and for renovations to the center's playground.

The center is currently caring for 70 children, the maximum it can hold, said director Karen Vanorsdale.

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