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Budget Cuts Leave Hundreds Of Durham Families Reeling

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DURHAM, N.C. — A Triangle coalition that helps children warns that hundreds of families are heading for a crisis.

Because of budget cuts, nearly 700 children will lose money that pays for child-care costs. One local family is about to be cut loose.

Sylvia DelValle only pays a third of the cost of before-and after-school care for her daughter, Lucinda. A subsidy from

Durham's Alliance for Child Care Access

pays the rest of the tab, so DelValle -- a single mom -- can work fulltime as a nurse.

But DelValle just got a letter from the Alliance in the mail, telling her the subsidy will end in three weeks.

"I was shocked, very shocked," she said, "wondered what I was going to do. Pretty much the next day, I was in a panic."

More than 10,000 Durham County children are eligible for child-care subsidies. Even before the budget cuts, the coalition only could help 3,300 of them.

When the coalition learned it would lose more than a million dollars in Smart Start funding, it was time to make some tough decisions.

"We're going to have to dis-enroll school-age children effective Nov. 14," said Alliance spokesperson Karenne Berry, "and that will give us $1.6 million in savings."

About 688 school-age children like Lucinda DelValle will lose their day-care subsidies so that pre-school kids can keep getting them. Now, hundreds of parents like Sylvia DelValle are scrambling to find child care -- and a way to pay for it.

"I'll have to pay three-and-a-half times more if I keep her here in this facility," Sylvia said. "If I take her out and put her somewhere else, it will be two to two and-a-half times more."

Once the subsidy stops, Lucinda DelValle will attend two day-care centers -- one before school and one after. That is a big adjustment for a child who just started kindergarten.

But her mother said it is the only option they have left.

The Alliance is encouraging parents to write to lawmakers who fund child-care programs. Durham County commissioners will put the subsidy issue on Monday night's agenda.

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