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Pa. budget impasse could close some child care centers

August 13, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. -- Hundreds of Pennsylvania child care centers that serve children of low-income parents are supposed to receive subsidy checks at the end of next week, but a state budget impasse means no cash and tough decisions.

The Associated Press and media outlets across Pennsylvania are reporting stories of day care center owners failing to pay vendors, tapping into personal savings and considering whether they can continue to accept children from poor families.

Robyn Moore, owner of Shippensburg's My Place Too, says she hears similar anecdotes as she makes calls to organize an Aug. 17 rally on the Capitol steps.

"They're worried they won't be able to pay their bills and their businesses may close," she said.

With 10 of her 44 enrolled children affected, Moore is cutting staff hours and thinking about closing classrooms. She, like Franklin County's legislative leaders, sees no end in sight for the state's six-week-old budget stalemate.

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"Hopefully, we won't have to close, but it depends how long this goes on," Moore said.

Megan Shreve, executive director of South Central Community Action Programs (SCCAP), said her human services organization coordinates payments for 2,000 children at 200 providers in Franklin and Adams counties.

"We took out a loan to pay them 20 percent, and we have no money going forward," Shreve said.

Not only are day care providers in danger of closing, but parents could lose their jobs if they can't afford care, Shreve said.

Chambersburg Memorial YMCA Executive Director Dave Matthews said YMCA officials are trying to decide how to continue offering services to the children whose subsidies won't arrive.

"It's affecting our budget greatly," he said.

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