Thursday, April 3, 2003
It's about money
Uh, oh - Su Sanders is calling
Su Sanders has been on my voicemail. I have been shamefully slow to call her back. I know it's about money, and I just don't know what to say. Things are tough all over. State budgets are being cut by billions of dollars. Billions.
And Su wants to talk about 20 cents.
She is one of those people with a mission, the mission being children at St. Paul's Child Care Center in Newport. Su's job is director of the agency. She does her job. And then some. A tiny woman whose bearing disputes her actual size, Su fills a room. Talking a mile a minute, she darts through the old red brick building, changing a diaper, helping a young mother refill a bottle. She carefully pours out the Mountain Dew, replacing it with milk.
"Maybe nobody ever told her this is bad for babies," Su says. More than three-quarters of the parents are single mothers. About a fifth are teen-agers, some as young as 14.
Child care is the bare minimum. Su's goal for her charges - aged 6 weeks to 6 years - is "connecting those little neurons, getting the kids ready for school. Breaking the cycle, giving them the chance not to become their parents." Crushing poverty is the rule rather than the exception at St. Paul's, which is subsidized by the state.
If a parent makes less than $8 an hour, they qualify for some assistance. The legislature is considering a proposal to lower that to $7.80.
A year ago, I watched a little girl as she arrived at St. Paul's. Her father knelt, running a brush gently through her blond hair one last time before he left for work. She was 3 years old then, healing from a series of surgeries. When she was an infant, her mentally ill mother gave her a battery to play with. The acid ate through the baby's esophagus.
I wondered what happened to her.
Good things, I am told. Her father has sole custody now, saying he learned a lot about how to care for his little girl from the staff at St. Paul's. Her injuries have healed. She knows her numbers and the alphabet. She smiles. These are very big things.
"One of our success stories," Su says. You can be the author of one of those stories if you have clout, money, time or ideas call Su at (859) 581-3390. "We're desperate."
You wouldn't think 20 cents would make that much difference. But it means 10,000 children would no longer qualify for assistance because their parents are making a whopping $16,640 per year. Parents who can't afford day care while they're working for their $8 an hour leave their children with somebody. Somebody not Su Sanders with her degree in early childhood education, with her fierce determination to "connect those little neurons," with her dedication to their health and safety. Maybe an older sibling. Maybe a boyfriend. Maybe a neighbor.
The weekly fee at St. Paul's for a toddler is $127, some of which is paid by parents. Incarceration at a state facility costs more than twice that, and the state pays the whole tab. Of course, not every neglected or abused kid winds up in jail. But surely we can notice that they might wind up unhappy.
But it's about money, and Su is hoping that the people who dole it out will decide it might be cheaper in the long run to build better kids than to try to fix ruined adults.
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 768-8393.
TRISTATE REACTS TO WAR
Docs put skills to test in battle
Baghdad street fight worries experts
Members of Enquirer's War Panel
Safe and sound at home
Wall of Prayer to post photos
Halt called to troop donations
Mother appreciates courage
Teens to pray on Square
IN THE TRISTATE
Council sticking to police reforms
Judge gives mortgage broker tongue-lashing, plus 6 months
Trucker will fight menacing charges
East End hopes for policing center in new school
Mt. Healthy street repair fund boosted by grant
CPS grads can benefit from two new UC financial aid programs
Norwood solicits comments on levies
Explosion at Addyston plant kills Cleves man
Obituary: Russell Wiles
Tristate A.M. Report
PULFER: It's about money
Some Good News
BUTLER, WARREN, CLERMONT
Money withheld, says head of disabled children's agency
Merchants anxiously await Ohio 747 widening project
Query to retire; Kings looks for new superintendent
$4.2M bid for paper company's complex
Rec centers to undergo renovation
Water tower site bought from Milford schools
Dayton Catholics seek openness
House budget plan hits libraries
Confusion delays instant bingo law
Court dismisses appeals in school construction conflict
Killing follows argument
Tobacco snag may cost state
Man gets 20 years in couple's kidnapping
2 area child-care centers top list
Bellevue man pleads not guilty to hurting daughter
Convicted killer gets new lawyer