Local News

Wake Board Courts Funding To Reopen Day-Care Center

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Imagine trying to conduct court with a screaming child waiting in the wings. It happens every day in Wake County.

A program to take care of children at the courthouse is out of money, and soon, judges may be out of patience.

Many parents, like Kimberly Lancaster, say they have no choice but to bring their kids to court.

"It's hard to wrestle three kids. I'm a single mom and I don't have anyone I can drop them off with during the day," she said.

A board of directors, backed by the Wake County Bar Association, runs the Courthouse Kidscenter -- a day-care center located across the street from the Wake County Courthouse.

In three years, the center served more than 4,500 children. The center closed in June after government money and private donations dried up.

"We definitely had the children there to serve and they're still there, said board chair Elaine Whitford. "It's very difficult to continue to raise money and get $1,000 here and $1,000 there and operate with a $100,000 budget and keep that going."

As a rule, most judges do not allow children in the courtroom. Judge Don Overby said the Kidscenter helped his courtroom operate more efficiently.

"We get to devote more time with less interruption. [It] make the ease of the administration of the judical business a whole lot better," he said.

"It makes it a lot easier for the parents, for those who have to wait long periods during the day to be seen. I think it would be really beneficial," parent Joe Santos said.

Parents and judges agree keeping the center open will help keep order in the court.

The board hopes to reopen the Courthouse Kidscenter by June 2004.

It plans to ask Wake County Commissioners to help with funding. The county already donates the space for the center.

Donations can be sent to the

Wake County Bar Association



Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Keith Baker, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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