gmhTODAY 29 gmhTODAY Jan March 2020 - Page 53

A year after celebrating its 40th anniversary, Go Kids Inc., has realized a long-time dream of opening a much-needed infant care facility in Morgan Hill.  The center, which is equipped to care for twelve infants, is another step in providing crucial services for families with small children, according to Go Kids, Inc. Executive Director, Larry Drury. After serving in this role for 20 years, he has decided to step down next year. The nonprofit group serves about 2,000 children daily in four counties through childcare centers and private licensed family childcare homes that are subsidized by the State of California. Go Kids operates eight childcare centers in Santa Clara, San Benito, Monterey and Santa Cruz counties. In South County, locations include preschool and after-school care programs at San Martin/Gwinn Elementary School, the Ochoa Migrant Camp in Gilroy, and its Los Arroyos Center in Gilroy, which is preparing to open a second infant care center in 2020. In 1975, Go Kids got its start with a  grant from the city of Morgan Hill to provide early childhood education training services to women from low- income backgrounds. The agency received its nonprofit status in 1978. Its funding base has expanded to include grants from the cities and counties it serves and private non-profit groups. Among them are First 5 California, which distributes money from the 1998 voter-passed tobacco tax to the states 58 counties. Go Kids employs 130 staff members, who are a mix of full- time providers, teachers, office and enrollment staff. Drury said Go Kids constantly seeks out grants to cover costs and expand services. A one-time funding grant from Santa Clara County made it possible for Go Kids to open the infant care center in Morgan Hill. The $20,000 grant paid for the repurposing of a portable building that Go Kids already owned at the Galvan Park location. “Getting that grant from the county was a godsend,” Drury said. The infant care center opened in late October and is now full. “It’s such a need. It’s unbelievable. There are no centers for infants at all,” Drury said. Paying for childcare continues to be a challenge for most families living in the Bay Area.  “The cost can be as much as you would pay for your child to go to college,” Drury said. Last year, infant care cost about $19,000 a year in Santa Clara County, compared to a national average of about $9,000 to $9,600 a year, according to Child Care Aware of America. In Gilroy and Morgan Hill, childcare costs an average of $1,200  to $1,400 per month per child as of January 2018, according to the Community Child Care Council of Santa Clara County, Inc. At the same time, costs for licensed day care providers are rising, which has caused a 14 percent decline in the number of home care pro- viders in the Bay Area in the last decade, according to the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network. Drury said the State of California recently increased the rate it will pay for subsidized childcare to bring the amount more in line with the actual cost. In addition, the California state Legislature is considering boosting its budget for early childhood programs, adding funds for renovating and building new childcare centers. Bay Area counties also are considering a host of initiatives for the 2020 ballot to help offset the cost of childcare for providers and families. Go Kids childcare programs are typically at capacity. Most have wait lists.  “Our goal is to make sure that we’re full,” Drury said. Slots are available for low-income families as well as for families paying the entire fee. “It’s really what the market will bear,” he said. Currently, most slots are being subsidized. The fee charged is on a sliding scale based on a family’s size and income. A household of four living in Santa Clara County bringing in an annual income of $94,500 is considered low income under the guidelines of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It’s such a need. It’s unbelievable. There are no centers for infants… GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN WINTER 2020 53