Points to Child Center’s Value to F.C.
As a City of Falls Church citizen and homeowner, I read last week’s editorial “In defense of the Innocents” with interest. I chose Falls Church as my home because of its commitment to community and children. The more I learn of the Child Development Center (CDC) and its beginnings — fundraising by concerned citizens, building construction through partnership with the City, successful care for thousands of children throughout its years — the more it reaffirms my decision to move here 14 years ago.
I also read the editorial as a mother of 18-month-old twin boys currently enrolled in the CDC. The CDC offers a loving, nurturing, and inclusive environment for our very youngest citizens. My boys have thrived there and I look forward to their next several years in the care of the CDC’s capable teachers.
Last June, a mother spoke at the City Council meeting about her struggles to find a preschool for her child who has significant medical special needs. Her child was turned away by 15 centers before being accepted at the CDC. This mother’s comments reminded me of the importance of the services the CDC provides and the impact it has on individual children’s lives. It would be inconvenient for me if the CDC was forced to close but if I wait long enough my twin boys would find another daycare. There is not another option for some of the CDC children and no amount of time on a waitlist will change that. Many children have special needs that are considered too risky for private preschools yet would not qualify for public special needs preschool programs such as the one offered by the Falls Church City Public Schools.
The CDC adds tremendous value to our community, preparing all our children, whatever their needs, for success in our public schools. The CDC provides full-time infant through preschool care to our families, services that the City or public schools cannot. And the CDC does so at no cash expenditure to Falls Church citizens. The CDC, like other non-profit organizations in our community, deserves our whole-hearted support.
Child Development Center Has Long History in F.C.
Since 1961, the Child Development Center (CDC) has provided infant and childcare, especially for children with developmental challenges. This has been a wonderful public-private partnership in which the City provided land and private citizens raised funds to build the two-story CDC. Easter Seals – through parents’ fees and fundraising – has provided the operating funds. The City of Falls Church and the City citizens have benefited from the CDC and thousands of children have been educated without tax dollars.
The City of Falls Church has been a great partner, providing the land initially with a 1-page lease that even considers deeding the land to the center. The 1961 lease was for 25 years for $1/year for the land at 111 N. Cherry Street – parkland between Donald Frady Park gazebo and tennis courts. This lease was renewed in 1986 for another 25 years again for $1/year.
The City is looking for revenue, but balancing its books on the backs of the parents of the CDC seems a bad choice. The City sent a letter dated Oct. 4 asking for more than $120,000/year for what it calls commercial lease rates and threatening to cancel the lease with 5 weeks – leaving parents without any child care and wait lists for other day care centers that are months long. The Easter Seals disputes that those lease rates are reasonable and argues that the City has completely lost sight of the nature of the non-profit CDC, the fact that the CDC pays for the building and upkeep, and the CDC’s ability to survive with an increase in rent of 12 Million percent.
While the Easter Seals tells parents that something will be worked out, it is clear that the City’s letter and recent Council comments have parents concerned. City Councils for 50 years have supported the CDC. The current City Council is threatening permanent service elimination for a temporary problem. For the sake of today’s kids as well as tomorrow’s, hopefully the City Council will find a better way to raise revenue and not end a “free” and unique service to the people of Falls Church.
F.C. Ought to Be Ashamed of Child Center Policy
Regarding last weeks editorial “In Defense of the Innocents,” the City should be ashamed of itself for letting the issue of Easter Seals’ lease on North Cherry Street slide until the last possible moment. Easter Seals has been asking for years to renegotiate its lease and pay more, but City staff ignored them until the schools became interested in the site. Easter Seals has paid for maintenance of this City-owned property out of its own pockets for years as a show of good faith. The City’s so-called “market value” counter offer – “pay us lots of money AND maintain the building” is preposterous. Furthermore, the City has no viable alternative plan for the site and may find itself unable to lease it to any other organization.
What is most amazing is that here we are again with another “last minute theater” episode with our City staff and Council. How many projects get kicked to the 11th hour and either die due to lack of action or end up band-aided together? In recent memory, I can think of many, including multiple affordable housing initiatives, transportation grant applications, school addition requests, budget negotiations, opportunities to acquire valuable land, election date changes and mixed use developments.
I don’t understand why this issue couldn’t have been solved in a reasonable amount of time rather than leaving these families on the brink of having no day care option (not to mention many Easter Seals employees without at job) on November 11! The obvious solution is to offer a long term lease that Easter Seals can afford (like 10 years) with a City option to end it early with a reasonable warning time.
T.J. Playground Being Trashed, Wants a Solution
I am a 4th grade student at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School. People are trashing our playground. I find trash and gum stuck at random places around the playground. Studens are not allowed to chew gum at school, so it cannot be students playing on the playground.
Also, swings are “reeled” around the polls (spun around and around the top pole) or broken.
Can someone do something to help fix this problem and stop it from happening again?
Stunned by Torrent of Rage Vs. Helen Thomas
I often disagree with our editor, and his repeating of Prime Minister Erdogan’s comments on Israel in his September 29 column as if they were facts was pernicious journalism. On the other hand, the torrent of rage he and Helen Thomas evoked in the following week’s letters was striking. The comment that “liberals do not care for the Jewish people” is a particularly stunning rewrite of history. It seems worthwhile to raise at least a couple of other points: “Israel” and “Jews” are not synonyms; and, it is possible to be troubled by the ongoing dispossession of the Palestinians by the Israeli settlements without being a Nazi.
John F. McDiarmid
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