Thirteen San Gabriel Valley school districts and agencies will receive more than $1 million as part of a statewide effort to provide supervised programs for young students who are left to fend for themselves after school because their parents work.
The state on Monday will begin contract negotiations with each organization to determine the exact amount each will receive, according to Patricia Gardner, administrative assistant in the child development division of the state Department of Education.
Successful San Gabriel Valley applicants and the approximate funding they will receive are: Bassett Unified School District, $90,000; Options child care agency of San Gabriel, $100,000; Pomona Unified School District, $56,509; Garvey School District, $100,000; Baldwin Park Unified School District, $100,000; Pasadena Unified School District, $100,000; San Gabriel Elementary School District, $90,000; Hacienda La Puente Unified School District, $100,000; Claremont Unified School District, $90,000; City of South El Monte, $100,000; Rosemead School District, $90,000; Escalon Inc. agency of Altadena, $31,629, and Comprehensive Child Care Agency of Monterey Park, $51,421.
5 Denied Funds
Unsuccessful area applicants were the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles/South Pasadena, Sunset Day Care Center of West Covina, Duarte Unified School District, Azusa Unified School District and Forrest Day School in Claremont.
Because the successful applicants will not receive as much money as they had sought, they say will not be able to provide some of their programs--including tutoring and recreational activities--for as many latchkey children as they had hoped.
And because the state has not determined the exact amount of the grants, no one is sure when the programs can begin or how many students will be helped. But they hope they can take down signs like the one seen this summer in an area library:
"All children running loose will be towed away and stored at owner's expense."
It is at libraries that latchkey children seem to be the most noticeable in the San Gabriel Valley. Although there are no statistics, many elementary-school children, often with a younger brother or sister in tow, show up at a library after school and stay until it closes.
Alone and Scared
But the problem is evident elsewhere, according to Linda Garcia, who runs a program in the Bassett Unified School District for children whose parents can afford the $100 to $140 monthly fee. With the state grant, Bassett will include children from low-income families who can't afford the program now.
"We see kindergarten children home by themselves and they are scared," Garcia said. "They watch television instead of doing their homework, and when the parents arrive home they are tired and feel guilty about the situation. We are an extension of the family, but we do remind the parents that we are not substitute parents."
Under the School Age Community Child Care Services legislation passed by the state Legislature last year, about $16 million in state funds will be provided each year for latchkey programs for children ages 5 to 13, she said.
Contracts are to be renewed annually, Gardner said.
A total of 280 school districts, private agencies, cities, county offices of education and colleges in California applied for the funding and 158--mostly school districts and private agencies--received it. The state says there are about 800,000 latchkey children in California.
Payment Based on Need
Under the legislation, sponsored by Sen. David Roberti (D-Hollywood), half of the children enrolled in a program must pay a fee and the other half, from families whose incomes range from $12,500 to $25,000, are subsidized through the state grants on a sliding scale based on need.
The mixture was required to ensure that children from low-income families were not put into separate latchkey programs.
Applicants for the state funds were rated on proven need, comprehensiveness and their proposed sites, with preference given to those planned at elementary schools.
Many of the people who will run the programs complained about the speed with which the state is trying to begin them. They had only the month of December to assess the needs in their communities and write proposals. And the state had only five weeks to study the proposals. Under the legislation, programs were to begin March 1, although no one met that deadline.
"This was done in a very tight time frame," Gardner said. "It was very complex and fraught with administrative challenges, but we came out well considering the short time and the immense pressure on everyone."
The schedule was written into the legislation deliberately, said Donne Brownsey, senior consultant to Roberti.
"We wanted to make sure the program got started right away because of the need, and we didn't want state bureaucratic red tape holding up the proceedings," she said.
The districts most prepared are those that have programs paid for by fees of participants.