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On site affordable child care for all...

I have been tryin to get on site child care at my school fot 8 years-

Here is a letter to a Board Member in charge of cosidering it fot the 2nd time. It was voted down 1 year ago-

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. As I stated I am friends with Candy and she has always shared her highest regards for you.

With that said, I must tell you how great it is that you will be leading this exploration regarding the merits of on site before and after school programming for our kids. My vision of a program in Lopatcong has never been about busing students (as a tax payer I am happy with the 2 mile rule or our taxes would be moving me to Delaware). I have heard that people in our town that do not really know me ponder if I am advocating for this program for my own needs. The answer is no. I am currently in a place where I can stay home with my 2 younger children because my husband has a job that provides for us. I am thrilled about this because I believe if one parent is able to stay home with children, children truly benefit. As I told you when we spoke on the phone this was not always my situation. When my first marriage failed and I had a 1 and 2 year old to raise alone I struggled terribly to pay for day care. At times I worked more than one job at a time. The stress and strain it placed on my two older children hurts me to this day. When my boys became school age, my children attended before and after school program at their school. The peace of mind I felt was enormous. Now why can't people that are in the situation I was have that option and peace of mind right here in Lopat? I spoke to a young mom the other day (who lives in Lopat) who confessed that she had to quit her job and go on welfare because she had no other after school options. Clearly that is not the answer. Other parents tell stories of juggling 3 or 4 children and having their kids around several locations after school because they have to work resulting in lots of stress not only on the parent but on the children as well.

The merits for on site care far outweigh the negatives. The people who need and use the program pay for it. Here in Lopatcong we offer some wonderful after school activities such as the homework club that can only be used by those students whose parents can pick them up after the hour long program runs. Other activities include sports and the girl and boy scout programs.

On site care could be done by a nonprofit organization that would provide a sliding scale fee, trained and educated staff that has had a criminal background check and fingerprints to their staff, liability insurance and complete administrative oversight of the program.

Cost to the school and tax payer is zero.

Finally I do feel passionate about this and at times appear overzealous. I apologize for that but not for my intent. I have lived in Lopatcong for 8 years now and love this town. I am a social worker. I personally experienced the pitfalls that life can throw you and most of all I believe in community helping each other. I hope our Board of Education and community at large come to the same conclusion.

Please feel free to share this information with your committee.

The specific person I have spoken to-

Diane M. Genco, Executive Director of the New Jersey after school care coalition

#908.789.0259

website- www.njsacc.org

Other organizations and websites I have explored-

http://www.afterschoolalliance.org/

http://www.hfrp.org/out-of-school-time/ost-database-bibliography/database(Harvard Research Group on After School care)

http://www.ed.gov/programs/21stcclc/index.html

http://www.njafter3.org/index.php

http://www.edutopia.org/node/3145/print

Pros of Before and After School Care-

1. Keeping kids safe and out of trouble (the most recent horrific story of the child killed in Fla, Somer, the mother noted that she was doing the best she could The school had no after school programming.) And of course the internet dangers are well documented for our youth.

2. Documented Improved Student Achievement. Through providing a structured environment with homework time and help.

3. Promoting positive Youth development with caring adult role models in structured after school activities as well as affording students the ability to attend on site activities (Girl scouts, homework club etc) that they may not have been able to attend without an on site program because their parents are at work.

4. Supporting working families-provides an affordable alternative to parents as well as pace of mind for their children's well being.

Supporters-

The Council of Chief State School Officers

The National Association of Elementary School Principals

The National Conference of State Legislatures

The National Governors Association

US Dept of Education

National Mayors

National and State PTA

NJ School Boards Association

New Jersey Dept of Education (http://www.nj.gov/education/21cclc/njan/)

Here are some editorials from people in town( Andrew Horun) an attorney in NJ and a BOE member is the one to note-

Want child care? Then stay at home

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The whole idea that I and other Lopatcong Township residents will be footing the bill for before- and after-school care programs is absurd ("Child care vs. child costs in Lopatcong," Jan. 12).

It's really easy for some parents to absorb the tax increase needed to fund the program. Compared to the cost of outside child care services, it will be a bargain.

If a single parent needs to work extra hours to support his or her children, I sympathize. However, if the two-parent household is intact, one of them needs to sacrifice time at work for time with their children at home. They need to spend quality time building a loving relationship, providing supervision and moral guidance, monitoring schoolwork, playing and bonding. Children need a mom and a dad to be in the home for more than just sleeping hours.

If you were a child and this were your day, imagine how resentful and disrespectful you'd be toward your folks: 6 or 6:30 to 8 a.m., before-school program; 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m., school; 3:30-6 p.m., after-school program; 7 p.m., dinner; computer games or television until 10 p.m., then back to bed.

Please spend some quality time with your kids! Here are some suggestions to save money: Downsize your house. Stop living beyond your means. Stop using charge cards and pay cash. Get a functional vehicle instead of an oversized gas-guzzling monstrosity that you'll probably never take "off-roading" anyway.

I don't want to absorb the cost of others' child care when they should be accepting the God-given responsibility of true parenting.

Tom Discafani

Lopatcong Township

Child care would not impact taxes

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

In response to Tom Discafani's remarks about someone staying home to care for their children ("Want child care? Then stay at home," letter, Sunday)

This is a reasonable idea. However, in the 21st century it is not as feasible as it once was. We reside in New Jersey, which has the highest real estate taxes in the country. School taxes go up every year due to government cutbacks and the cost of sending our children to college is outrageous.

Before becoming a moral authority for everyone, Discafani needs to take a more realistic look at the picture. I have four children, reside in a regular house, do not own a Tahoe and do live within my means. I work part time for two reasons: 1) To save for my children to go to college and 2) For my own sanity. There is nothing wrong with that.

Lopatcong School needs to meet the overwhelming need and provide this long-overdue before- and after-school care. By the way, the program would not have any tax impact whatsoever as Discafani suggests because it would be paid for solely by those who use it.

Susan Flanagan

Lopatcong Township

Child care should begin at home

Thursday, January 17, 2008

This is in response to Susan Flanagan's letter (Jan. 15) about before- and after-school care in Lopatcong. Initially the sole "overwhelming need" in this township and state is for people to take responsibility for their own children. Many of today's social ills would be remedied if this principle were followed.

To suggest there would be no tax impact seems rather naive. The child care is to occur on school property. This will certainly lead to significantly higher insurance premiums. If one of the child care children was injured while on school property I am confident the inevitable lawsuit would name the Lopatcong school board as a defendant. I find it hard to believe the child care users would pick up the litigation costs and pay any settlement or jury verdict.

It is truly sad to see that any aspect of this child care proposal is related to a need to attain "sanity." Hopefully Flanagan's children will not save her unfortunate letter because if she becomes burdensome in her later years they could present it to her as she is being dropped off at a senior home so they can maintain their sanity.

Andrew M. Horun

Lopatcong Township

Only users will pay for after school care

Saturday, January 19, 2008

This letter is in response to Tom Discafani ("Want child care? Then stay at home," Jan. 13). There has been much discussion and debate on the issue of the proposed after care program at Lopatcong Elementary School.

There continues to be some confusion as to how the program would be funded. The township residents will not be footing the bill for the after care program. It would be run by an outside agency and staffed by that agency. The only responsibility for the school would be to find available space for the program. It has been proposed to be a pay-as-you-go program. This means the families who will be utilizing this program will be the ones paying for it. Only them, no one else.

The U.S. Census Bureau shows that more than half of all married couples hold the status of "dual-earner couples." And of these, 56 percent have children younger than the age of 18. Surely, all of these people are not living beyond their means and mismanaging their finances.

Additional research shows that currently college tuition costs are increasing at two times the inflation rate, an average of 5 to 8 percent per year. Projected costs in 10 years are as follows: four-year public college $37,852 a year; four-year private college $77,239 a year.

Surviving on just one income just won't cut it anymore for many families. Let's not judge working parents for doing what they feel is best for their families. The days of June Cleaver are long gone. Welcome to the 21st century.

Daura McMahon

Lopatcong Township

Stick to the issues on in-school care plan

This is in response to Andrew Horun's letter (Jan. 17) concerning the Lopatcong before- and after-school care initiative. The issues were clearly presented in The Express-Times' Jan. 16 editorial. It was sad to see Horun didn't stick to the issues.

Susan Flanagan has been very active in advocating for this issue in the interest of the community. Many parents will not be able to predict when a situation could arise that would necessitate care for their children. The extremely high cost of college could require a change from part-time to full-time hours.

Other examples include: illness, death, or disability of a working spouse. Not all parents have extended family nearby. "Sanity" does not specifically refer to children being a "burden." It refers to utilizing training, talents and work experience. Additionally "senior homes" are often very necessary. There are often some health concerns that not everyone could manage at home. Referencing them in a negative context was an unnecessary attack on both Flanagan and assisted-care facilities.

Finally, sporting activity is riskier than students sitting and doing their homework, so I'm not so sure insurance premiums would increase. In my view there is nothing inevitable about a lawsuit. These are unnecessary attacks on the supervisory skills of qualified in-school providers and those Lopatcong residents who are not litigious. Please, let's stick to the issues.

Cathy Marcuccilli

Lopatcong Township

—Susan New Jersey
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