AG seeks help for kids’ activity

Arroyo Grande employees working on the city’s before- and after-school child care program have started a marketing campaign to solicit donations, increase enrollment and expand its sports programs.

The goal is to cut the $50,000-to-$55,000 subsidy the city pays from its general fund to run the Children in Motion program.

The Arroyo Grande City Council in March considered eliminating the program’s child care coordinator position as one way to eliminate a shortfall from its 2010-11 fiscal year budget, which started July 1.

At that time, the council made other cuts but delayed action on Carrie Van Beveren’s job to allow program staff time to find ways to improve enrollment and organize fundraisers.

This week, the council voted 4-1 to give the program the go-ahead on its outreach and fundraising efforts and to again delay a decision on Van Beveren’s position until August. Doing so allows recreation staff to learn whether a staff member plans to retire and, if so, to possibly restructure the division and reduce the subsidy without a layoff.

Councilman Jim Guthrie dissented, saying the program over the past few years has been unable to find a way to raise money and reduce the city subsidy to the program. He instead favored eliminating the coordinator job and the child care offered at Branch Elementary School.

He also suggested that it may be time for the city to get out of the child care business, because other providers, including the YMCA and the South County Boys and Girls Club, also offer child care services. The Children in Motion program started 22 years ago.

Last fiscal year, which ended June 30, the program brought in about $322,000 but spent about $365,000, said Doug Perrin, the city’s director of recreation and maintenance services.

The Children in Motion program offers child care at three elementary schools and the Elm Street Community Center. It serves about 140 children in the South County.

The program had served an additional 110 students in Harloe Elementary School’s “Bright Futures” program, but school administrators recently decided to contract with the YMCA to operate the program instead.

Van Beveren, who has worked for the program for eight years, said she’d like to offer after-school art and music programs at Ocean View Elementary School. Soon, she’ll attend “back to school nights,” telling people about the child care program.

“I’m hoping they give us more time,” she said, referring to the council.

Get involved

The Arroyo Grande Lions Club is hosting a barbecue fundraiser to benefit the Children in Motion program on July 23 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Women’s Center at 211 Vernon St. in Arroyo Grande. Tickets are being presold for $10 at the Recreation Division office and at City Hall. A 5k run is tentatively planned for Oct. 16 on the Cal Poly campus.

Registration started Thursday for the before- and after-school child care program at Branch, Harloe and Ocean View elementary schools. Parents may register their children at the Recreation Division office at 1221 Ash St., by calling the Recreation Division office at 473-5474.

Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.