D.C.

Budget concerns put Arlington's Child Care Office in jeopardy

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Parents in Arlington County are standing together against possible cuts to the county's Child Care Office.

The proposal has become personal for many parents who say saving money at the expense of quality child care just isn't right.

Also under consideration is the elimination of oversight over small daycare centers and home providers with up to five children under their watch.

Working mom Michell Sagatov says the extra layer of information and resources provided by Arlington County helped her family when choosing an in-home daycare provider.

"It was comforting to know that they had to go through the same training and the same licensing," Sagatov said.

Currently, the Child Care Office regulates local daycares, but it and its rules on licensing are in jeopardy due to budget constraints.

Kurt Larrick, with the Department of Human Services, explained, "Option one is that we can remove all the local ordinances, which would leave only the smaller family day care homes unregulated."

This means oversight would go back to the state, saving the county about $240,000 a year - the equivalent of three positions.

It's a move child care provider Sandra Redmore strongly opposes.

"'Child Care Aware' has graded Virginia's regulations an F because of the student-teacher ratio, group sizes, teacher qualifications - all of which are of higher standard on the Arlington County code," she argued. 

After learning about the possible changes about a week ago, Redmore took to social media, and the support from parents is growing. More than 400 people have signed Redmore's petition.

Sagatov added, "It's going to affect so many people..., and it's especially going to affect the people who can't talk the most--little infants."

Arlington officials say this isn't a done deal yet.

Larrick said, "We're putting together an option where we retain local oversight over the smaller family daycare homes, so none of the daycare homes in Arlington County fall outside of the regulation umbrella."

 On March 26, parents plan to speak directly to county board members to convince them not to take away local child care resources.

Final budget cut decisions will be made April 16.

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