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Irvine Firm Will Manage City Program for Day Care

December 17, 1987|ESTHER SCHRADER | Times Staff Writer

An Irvine child-care company has been selected to operate the financially troubled Glendale Employers Child Care Consortium.

Representatives of the consortium, made up of the city and three Glendale corporations, Friday selected National Pediatric Support Services to take over operation of the center from the Glendale Unified School District next month.

The district had been one of the original consortium members and had operated the center since it opened last January.

The school board voted last month to withdraw as operator and a participant in the consortium, citing low enrollment and the high cost of using district staff.

The program had lost $49,000 in nine months of operation.

The consortium was founded to provide high-quality day care at competitive rates for its members, which include Verdugo Hills Hospital, Glendale Memorial Hospital and the Glendale Federal Savings & Loan.

Sheri Senter, who founded National Pediatric five years ago, said she will cut staff, shorten hours, increase fees and extend the program from 48 to 51 weeks a year to increase enrollment and make the center profitable.

"If you don't have enrollment then schools can't exist," said Senter, who owns two private day-care centers in Southern California. "But given the demographics of this city, given the baby boom, given the dual income families and career women, I don't think that will happen." She said it could be making money by midyear.

The center has space for 90 children and an enrollment of 52, said Beth Gardner, president of the consortium board.

Senter said she is cutting staff from 11 to eight, a level that still exceeds the state-mandated ratio of one staff member for every four infants and toddlers and one staff member for every eight preschoolers.

Five of the 11 school employees employed at the center have been hired by the program, Senter said.

The other district employees will be placed at other centers run by the school district, said Georgia McAninch, director of child-development centers for the school district.

Some Fees Will Increase

When National Pediatrics takes over under its three-year contract, fees for infants and toddlers will increase by $5 a week, but those for preschoolers will stay the same, Senter said.

The center will open half an hour later in the morning, at 6:30, but will still close at 6 p.m., Senter said.

The program will use a janitorial service instead of a full-time janitor, Senter said, a measure that she said will save $9,000.

Lunches for preschoolers will no longer be included in the center's fees, Senter said. Parents will be asked to provide their own, she said.

Despite the changes, only two children have been removed from the program, and Gardner said parents of children enrolled in the center now are pleased with the management.

"We've been hanging in limbo for three months, and they've been hanging with us," Gardner said. "Now the parents are very positive."

The Glendale Unified School District Board of Education voted Tuesday night to authorize district employees to manage the center until the end of January to smooth the transition, school district spokesman Vic Pallos said.

Senter said the new program will be fully phased in by Feb. 1.

National Pediatric Support Services owns and manages programs in Pasadena and in Newport Beach in Orange County.

The corporation, with a full-time staff of 60 child-care workers, is scheduled to open a Huntington Beach facility in January and an Anaheim Hills center in February.

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