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Day care a key to employment for poor

August 31, 2003|By Russell Williams

According to a news story (Page 2B, Aug 15 Baltimore Sun), the Maryland State budget secretary said that the way to raise an eventual $1.3 billion more yearly for public school spending is to trim the fat out of state government and legalize slot machines.

Trimming out the fat, who could object to that? What are some of the kinds of fat that have already been trimmed out of the state budget? Well, one kind of fat that has been trimmed out is safe day care for the children of poor working parents.

It takes all kinds of working people to keep our society functioning. Without the working poor our society would lose many services. Where do the working poor put their children and how does this relate to the elimination of budgetary fat?

Fully inspected child care is expensive. Low-income working parents, who are often single mothers, are eligible for child-care vouchers so that, while they are working, their children can be in safe surroundings, cared for by properly trained, background checked people. From different sources I have been told that the waiting list to get such vouchers is 10 months, or one year, or there is no money at all to fund any additional vouchers.

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So what happens? Working mothers must find some place for their children. If they can not afford state inspected and approved day care or find trusted, available, responsible family members then the working poor must leave their children alone or find some uncertified person who, working off the books and for a much lower price, will keep children in an uninspected home.

Hopefully most such unlicensed childcare providers provide high quality care, but no one knows about a particular situation until there is a problem and a child suffers.

The members of this committee object strongly to the notion that providing safe, inspected, childcare for working mothers is budgetary fat. The whole nation is involved in making sure that no child is left behind educationally. Surely the people of Maryland must believe that no children should be left in potentially unsafe day care because their parents must work and cannot afford safe, state approved, secure day care for their children.

Please tell your representatives that both poor and rich children are worthwhile to our society. Please tell your representatives that one way we prove to children of the working poor that they are worthwhile is by classifying adequate day care for poor children as a necessity rather than as budgetary fat.




Russell Williams is chairperson of the Emanuel United Methodist Church social concerns committee.

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