Shattuck child care center dealt crucial blow

July 4, 2014
By

FOREST HILLS—The state-subsidized Shattuck Child Care Center was written out of the state budget during Senate and House budget reconciliation talks this week, gutting the center’s hopes for a permanent home. The center currently has one year to find a new home or be shut down.

According to Clare Reilly, a member of the Shattuck Child Care Center Board, the language removed from the supplemental budget would have allowed the center to remain on the Shattuck campus for another 15 years. While the center would have had to leave its current rooms, the state would have allowed the center space to park a portable unit for that time.

Without a lease for the portable unit in place, Reilly said, the center is unable to secure financing to purchase it.

“It’s incredibly disappointing,” Reilly told the Gazette. “We were really optimistic. Now we’re back to square one.”

“Square one” means that the center has one year to figure out its future home—which was in and of itself a battle to achieve. The center was originally supposed to close earlier this week, on June 30.

“It’s been such a long, drawn-out process,” Reilly said. “Even getting a year [was] a big success.”

“We just have to regroup and figure out our next steps,” she said, noting that the center’s board would be scheduling a meeting in the next few weeks.

“It was a major disappointment,” state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz told the Gazette after the decision Monday. “I was very optimistic about this. This came as a surprise to everybody. But the [state] administration could at any time decide to do the right thing and give them the extension.”

Chang-Díaz, along with state reps. Liz Malia and Jeffrey Sanchéz, has been a big supporter of the child care center.

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 Both forms of support will be withdrawn next year, according to Reilly.

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 state House budget supplement would have given the center a 15-year lease with $1 annual rent on the Shattuck campus for the portable unit. The Senate budget called for a feasibility study to be completed, to determine where on the Shattuck campus the mobile unit could be housed. It also stated 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.

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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