Shattuck child care center gets lifeline

FOREST HILLS—Following interventions by state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz and state Reps. Liz Malia and Jeffrey Sánchez, the state-subsidized Shattuck Child Care Center may have gotten a lifeline in the state supplemental budget this month.

According to Clare Reilly, a member of the Shattuck Child Care Center Board, new language added to the state House and Senate supplemental budgets would provide two possible means to keeping the center afloat while it looks for a new permanent home.

The center, currently serving about 40 children in the soon-to-be decommissioned Personnel Building on the Shattuck campus, has been subsidized by the state for the last 44 years. The state has paid for three employees and has not charged the center rent during that time. Both forms of support will be withdrawn starting in August.

The Personnel Building, part of Shattuck’s campus just inside Franklin Park at 170 Morton St., will be emptied and mothballed due to a host of structural deficiencies discovered during an “extensive” state review of the grounds conducted in October 2012. According to Malia and Chang-Díaz, the state administration plans to eventually demolish the building.

The child care center has already found a mobile modular unit to replace its home in the building. It just needs a place to park it.

The state House budget supplement would give the center a 10-year lease with $1 annual rent on the Shattuck campus for the portable unit. The Senate budget calls for a feasibility study to be completed, to determine where on the Shattuck campus the mobile unit could be housed. It also states that the center’s current lease in the Personnel Building should be extended to six months beyond the completion of that study, with no specific timetable laid out.

According to Reilly, the state legislature now must reconcile the two ideas. Once that has been done, the governor has 10 days to veto any part of the reconciled budget, including support for the center.

“Now we’re waiting to see what happens,” she told the Gazette this week. “We’re still in the game, but we still have a ways to go.”

Even if the governor does veto support for the center, a two-thirds vote from the legislature could override his veto and keep the center’s lifeline alive.

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” Reilly said. “It’s not done yet.”

“Cautiously optimistic is a good way to put it,” Malia told the Gazette this week, noting she had not yet seen the specific language of the supplemental budget. “The governor might veto this, but I think we would have a good chance to override it” if it came to that, she said.

The center has previously applied for space for the mobile unit on Shattuck grounds, which the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) has denied. A Gazette email to Julie Kaviar, deputy communication director for EOHHS, was not returned by press time.

Last year, Gov. Deval Patrick called for universal access to high-quality early education for children across the state, from birth through age 5.

In August 2012, the state informed the child care center of the Personnel Building’s mothballing. The state promised the child care center that they would have a process to identify another space on campus and that the center would have a year to move from the time a new space was identified, Reilly previously told the Gazette.

“We never heard from them again,” she previously told the Gazette.

It is unclear when and why the state decided to close the building.

The child care center was founded in 1969 as the National Council of Jewish Women day care center and renamed in 1989. It was used as a recruitment tool for state employees to come work at Shattuck.

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