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Child-Care Problems at Crisis Stage, Survey Says : More 'Latchkey Kids' Foreseen in Glendale

August 31, 1989|MARTHA L. WILLMAN | Times Staff Writer

A dramatic growth in the need for child-care services coupled with a severe shortage of programs has created a crisis in Glendale that has reached "unprecedented levels," according to a survey released Tuesday by the Greater Glendale Child Care Council.

The survey, conducted by researchers at Glendale Community College, found that even the services that are provided cost more than many families can afford, have long waiting lists and offer little hope for meeting future needs.

Researchers said the statistics forewarn of growing numbers of "latchkey kids"--children left to fend for themselves at home while their parents work.

The report concludes that the plight of latchkey children, subject to physical and emotional risks and raised under the tutelage of television and young peers, is "likely to have a significant future impact on society."

Poses Questions

Researchers Mary Fensholt and Scot Spicer asked: "Does the latchkey experience prepare children to accept their future employment, family and civic responsibilities? Or does a latchkey experience contribute to low self-esteem, depression and anxiety?"

The questions posed and the figures compiled will be used by the child-care council, formed early this year, to determine what programs can be developed by the city, private industry, schools and child-care providers to meet the crisis.

Jane Whitaker, council president, said a hearing will be held Sept. 27 to listen to suggestions from the public. The hearing is scheduled at 4 p.m. in the Board of Education meeting room at the Glendale Unified School District headquarters, 223 N. Jackson St. Copies of the report will be available Sept. 11-15 at the district office.

While general statistics have been compiled over the years by various government sources and nonprofit agencies, the latest report is believed to provide the most accurate figures on the specific crisis in Glendale, according to the researchers.

The study estimates that of more than 25,000 children age 12 and younger in Glendale, more than 14,000 are children of working parents and in need of child care. The figure includes a 25% increase in the number of Glendale children from birth to age 9 since the last government census was taken in 1980.

Yet fewer than 4,000 spaces are available or immediately planned in local child-care centers, leaving more than 10,000 children in Glendale in need of alternative solutions, according to the report.

Researchers estimate that even with the help of relatives and unlicensed child-care providers, a shortage of about 5,500 spaces for child care exists in Glendale. And spaces in care centers typically cost $325 to $550 a month per child.

"Little relief is in sight," Fensholt wrote in the report presented to the council's executive committee Tuesday. "Expansion plans by current child-care centers will provide only 2% of the additional spaces needed during the coming year, while birth rates are predicted to rise steadily until the end of this century."

GLENDALE CHILD-CARE NEEDS (Figures are for 1989)

CHILDREN Total Number (from birth through 6th grade): 25,234

Need Care: 14,690

CHILD-CARE SPACES

Spaces available: 3,977 ( includes 352 planned spaces)

Shortage of Spaces: 10,713

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