Local day-care providers said sessions were unfair competition for businesses
By Kim Walter -- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- The Warren County Board of Supervisors asked the Parks and Recreation Department on Tuesday to abandon its proposal for a summer in the parks program.
Instead, supervisors told parks officials during a Tuesday work session to work with Warren County Middle School's Youth Enrichment Program to develop a summer strategy.
Robin Richardson, assistant director for the department, proposed a summer program for children ages 5-11 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week. She said the program could accept up to 40 children, with a cost of $90 per week for 25 of the children, and $75 for the remaining 15 who might not be able to afford the higher rate.
The program would offer sessions of different sports and skills, and possibly a few days at the pool.
Originally, the hours had been set from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., but local day-care representatives thought that time frame qualified the program as another day care in the community.
About a week ago, Rose Mary Comstock of Angel's Corner informed other day-care providers of the proposal, and collected letters of opposition, some of which she brought to the work session.
Comstock read her own letter aloud, and explained that while she thanked Parks and Recreation, she thought the department needs to work with the day-care facilities, as well as other organizations, to "reach the children who have not been given opportunities."
"We really don't understand why it has to be designated to a limited group the whole summer," she said. Comstock also said the bad economy has worked against day cares, describing one that recently closed after being in business for over 30 years.
Comstock wants children both with working parents or with stay-at-home parents to have opportunities this summer. She recognized that Parks and Recreation has had past summer programs that worked "just fine."
Richardson pointed out that while those programs worked, they had to be shut down due to lack of a facility. Though the department doesn't struggle with that now, if it takes in more children it will have to hire more employees, she said.
"We just don't have the money," Richardson said.
Comstock said she couldn't help, but want to protect the local businesses, calling herself the "mother bear of day cares."
The supervisors had set a Feb. 21 public hearing on the proposed summer program, but Chairman Archie Fox asked that it be canceled.
"Let's just be done with this," said Supervisor Tony Carter. He offered that, instead, the department go to the Youth Enrichment Program and try to work out a summer program with its officials.