State's financial crisis impacts daycare center

April 7, 2010 5:01:15 PM PDT
A daycare center that serves Chicago's Latino community is in financial trouble since it depends on state funding and Illinois is way behind in paying many of its bills.

For 37 years, El Hogar del Nino, "the home of the child", has been providing affordable daycare in Pilsen and Little Village. Currently, the organization serves over 300 children through its toddler, preschool, head start and after-school programs. Children get to play and learn at the same time with computers, in the library, with building blocks, and by being stimulated constantly.

"We are trying to stop the achievement gap before it begins with the preschool students," said Cinthya Quintana, El Hogar del Nino.

El Hogar's executive director Denise Castillo Del Isola joined the center in 2009. She previously practiced commercial litigation at one of the world's largest law firms.

"I decided I wanted to do something different and get back into the community," said Castillo del Isola. "My legal training and the research skills that I had and advocacy skills are very transferable."

The child care center also provides family care management services for low-income families and children.

"I think it's important that a community has a space that is safe," said Quintana.

Del Isola says that the state is usually about three to four months behind on payments for certain programs and that the proposed budget cuts could mean a loss of as much as $200,000.

"That's probably about four teachers' salaries which is two classrooms for us which could be up to 40 children and you are talking about perhaps having 40 children not receive services and then their parents would have to care for them at home and it's possible they would not be able to go to work. So they would lose their jobs,," said Del Isola.

El Hogar held a fundraising and community awareness event Wednesday. They gave tours of the facility to potential donors.

El Hogar serves children 6 months to 12 years old.