Imagine my surprise when I saw my daughter's picture in the Menlo Park activity guide under the page marked "School Age Child Care".
The TRUTH is that there currently is NO afterschool care available in Menlo Park. If you dont believe me, try enrolling your kindergartener - anywhere. Burgess had 3 openings for Fall which were given to the two brave father's who camped overnight to secure their spots. My daughter in the picture is number two on wait list, I arrived at 5 am. Last year there were no cancellations.
I have been one of the most outspoken critics of the Menlo Park School Districts' hands-off policy with respect to onsite after school care and have spent the last six months and literally hundreds of hours in dialog with the Superintendent, the City Council and concerned parents trying to understand how Menlo Park can continue to ignore a problem which has existed for years (and which is documented by their own surveys).
Consider these facts:
MENLO PARK IS PRESENTLY THE ONLY DISTRICT ON THE PENISULA NOT OFFERING ONSITE AFTERSCHOOL CARE. Currently onsite after school care is offered (and has been for years) at: Las, Lomitas, Redwood City, Palo Alto, Ravenswood, Los Altos, Belmont Shores, Portola Valley, Burlingame etc.
THREE YEARS ago 43% of surveyed parents (not including incoming kinders who were not polled for some unknown reason) said they would use onsite childcare if available (196 families) and yet the District maintains they need to spend valuable resources exploring whether or not their is a need. We all know enrollment is up. What is to explore?
To this end the District recently sent out an electronic survey to assess parent's perceived district priorities. And again, despite the Superintendents' promises to the contrary (given to parents, and witnessed by City Councilmen and City Administrators), incoming kindergarten parents - those arguably with the most need -- were not (yet?)polled.
Furthermore, the electronic survey designed by a "consultatnt" had such an abysmal response rate that District could not get an accurate assesment of any of the questions asked. Consequently they decided to mail out hard copy surveys in hopes of a better return rate. What a waste of valuable time and money!
The successful and tested model for onsite childcare in most neighboring communities (Las Lomitas, Los Altos, PV etc ) is funded 100% by parents who use the service. No City or District money is used.
The going rate for legitimate, documented, nanny care is $18 per hour = $1,890 per month for care from 12pm-5pm. Of course none of this includes withholding, benefits etc.
Onsite care is $780 per month 12-5. (CCLC @ Las Lomitas)
Private School roughly $800 per month (St Raymonds based roughly $5,800 annual tuition - school from 8-3 plus nominal hourly charge for care from 3-5.
Translation: if you are a working parent it is cheaper to move out of Menlo Park or put your child into private school.
I dont think many new families are aware of the afterschool care problem that exists in Menlo Park. I certainly didn't before finding out the hard way.
Even for those who dont have families we all know that our property value is directly related to the strength of our School District. What happens to our property values when people realize that they can get better value for their dollar in other cities? Realtors pay attention here!!!
Mostly though this is a social issue. If you are a single parent, or if you can't afford to not work, or if you cant afford $18 per hour, what are your options? Not having affordable, onsite childcare available is simply elitist. This (non) policy should enrage anyone with any social conscious.
This is a School District issue but it will require the City, and the community to insist that the District take immediate action. To express your concern to the School District: firstname.lastname@example.org
There is no downside to bringing onsite afterschol care to MP. Please get involved.