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What should Menlo Park do about child care?

Original post made on Jun 1, 2009

As Menlo Park works to cut its subsidy of the city-run child care center in the Civic Center complex, it's become clear to everyone involved that the program's management could be more efficient. What that should mean for the program's future is now being hotly debated. Photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, May 30, 2009, 12:29 AM

Comments (13)

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Posted by Arrrggghhh!
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jun 1, 2009 at 4:03 pm

"We can't solve the problem." -- Rich Cline

Well, that doesn't bode well for any other service or program run by the city, now does it?

Of course you can solve the problem. The childcare center is a good program that's been through some recent upheavals, and clearly hasn't gotten any support from the Rec Dept.'s upper management.

I know for a fact that the communication between the town manager's office and the childcare center has been deplorable, with vital information not being given to the center's director.

Abolishing the childcare center isn't going to fix the problems with the city administration, and it's not going to eliminate the "overhead" costs attributed to fractions of the salary of the recreation director, etc.

Save the childcare center and fix city hall. If you can't manage that, then get the heck off of the city council.

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Posted by Diana
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 1, 2009 at 4:37 pm

Cline's comment struck me as odd too. If you recognize that a management problem is causing a program problem, shouldn't you focus on fixing the management problem? After all, the management problem is likely to adversely affect more than just one program in the city.

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Posted by interesting
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 1, 2009 at 10:35 pm

Disregard that there have been multiple failed attempts to reform city run child care by two different administrations in this city and three different councils. Just find a someone to blame and it all works out...

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Posted by mom x 4
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 1, 2009 at 10:58 pm

Don't quote Rich out of context. He is a good guy and I am glad he is on council (a thankless job, for sure!)

The parents who are begging the city to spend money on the MCC in 2009 are no less selfish than the parents who asked the city to take over the MCC 20+ years ago.

Twenty years. At least three different city managers. Many city councils. Dozens of teachers and more than a few directors. And the city's child care program has been an expensive failure, year after year after year. When you see how intractable a problem the MCC has been, and when you realize that there is no way the city can possibly compete with private, corporate, or family-run child care operations, well, it's time to pull the plug.

There are plenty of other child care options in Menlo Park and adjacent cities. The rest of us have all paid our own way, without handouts from the city, and so can this crop of MCC parents. The sooner they are weaned off their subsidies, the better.

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Posted by Reality Check
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 1, 2009 at 11:00 pm

"Disregard that there have been multiple failed attempts to reform city run child care"

If by "reform," you mean give away city assets via privitization, you are correct.

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Posted by Reality Check
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 1, 2009 at 11:04 pm


If the program has been such a "failure" over that long a time span, why has it garnered such strong, universal support from participating parents, who are paying a market rate for its services?

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Posted by West MP
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jun 2, 2009 at 7:53 am

We should not be be in the childcare business. I have 3 children and can not afford the center so have used privately provided which I can afford and is NOT subsidized. I did not have children so that the community of Menlo Park could pay to take care of them.

You are not talking about a childcare center for parents who earn a minimum wage. You are charging me a utility tax to pay for childcare for someone elses children and that is not right.

It should be a privately run center that is self sustaining not using utility tax dollars to the tune of $300,000 plus a year.

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Posted by mom x 4
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 2, 2009 at 8:52 am

Parents tend to like whatever program their kids are using -- if they don't, they switch! So parental approval is essentially meaningless.

Parents may feel that they are paying a "market rate" but in fact they are not covering the operating costs. The city needs to get out of the business because it can't operate the center in a cost-effective manner and because there are many private operators who can do so. Lather, rinse, repeat. Twenty years of this and how many millions of dollars in subsidies? Enough!

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Posted by Own Your Responsibility
a resident of Encinal School
on Jun 2, 2009 at 10:40 am

Here's a solution to getting the city of Menlo Park out of the childcare subsidy business:

-- Put the current MCC parents on notification that the program as they know it will end in August 2010.

-- The City of Menlo Park should contract to lease out the space MCC currently occupies to an entity who wants to start a new preschool in September 2010. The lease rate should be an amount of money such that the City of Menlo Park will make an appropriate profit, yet is an amount that is attractive to a prospective preschool tenant.

-- The City of Menlo Park, should be under NO obligation to subsidize the costs of childcare. The residents of Menlo Park should be under no delusion that the city owes them childcare, nor any kind of subsidy.

(And just so you understand my perspective - I have young kids. They went to preschool. We were at MCC for a time. I still feel that the City of Menlo Park does not owe me, nor anyone, a subsidy for childcare.)

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Posted by i Agree
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jun 2, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Thank you "Own Your Responsibility", I could not have said that better myself. This is EXACTLY the plan we should follow, and we should consider this for every other service the city offers that is putting a drain on our budget!

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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 2, 2009 at 1:00 pm

I would like to see a list of salaries and expenses that the program costs.

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Posted by Kelli
a resident of Laurel School
on Jun 3, 2009 at 9:35 pm

Menlo Park needs to get out of the business of childcare- especially since we are paying out more then we are taking in. Lease out the space to a privatized childcare center- we would make more of a profit on the building and not have all of the cost.

It is not the job of the city to tend to the children, it is the job of the parents. As a mother of 4 kids, 6 years old and under, we make it work without the MP Childcare center- other parents will too. Cut it off, its a leach.

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Posted by mom x 4
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 3, 2009 at 11:26 pm

Own Your, that is a great solution. Email Heyward and the band and clue them in.

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