New Beginnings childcare takes hit in ’08-’09 budget

Florida A&M University’s Student Government Association said the dwindling economy has affected its 2008-2009 budgeting.

FAMU’s New Beginnings ChildcareCenter has been suffering from SGA’s budget cuts. New Beginnings is now fighting to survive for its clientele, which includes the community, faculty and student parents on campus.

New Beginnings, a day care facility created to help student-parents balance their classes and children, requested $160,000 in activity and service fees for the 2008-2009 school year. However, because of constraints projected in the upcoming fiscal year, the SGA activity and service fee board committee is proposing to give New Beginnings $108,000.

Reva Myers, Ph.D., director of New Beginnings, who established the childcare center 20 years ago, said the lack of funding from A&S fees has affected her facility.

“We cut back on staff quite naturally, and that’s the biggest portion of the budget anyway,” Myers said. “That can potentially affect the safety and quality of care students get.”

When the student to teacher ratio increases, Myers said the stress of teachers follows suit.

“They have to work harder and with more children,” Myers said. “We don’t have enough flexibility in scheduling.”

Morris Hawkins, 35, SGA comptroller, said he understands the importance of New Beginnings and wanted to give them more money.

“New Beginnings is definitely one of those organizations that (we) would have liked to better fund, but we were given budget restraints,” Hawkins said. “It’s like trying to fit a watermelon into a cantaloupe.”

Vincent Evans, 19, a budget committee member from Jacksonville, blamed the country’s economic decline for the much-needed funding SGA hasn’t been able to provide New Beginnings.

“It doesn’t appear the economy will get any better drastically over the next year,” said the sophomore political science student. “Looking at the legislature right now, they’re strapped for cash. It’s a very harsh reality.”

Myers has been facing this reality, and she’s already come up with tentative solutions to ensure her facility’s survival.

“We’re probably going to have to increase fees, and we’re probably going to be looking for more grant opportunities,” Myers said.

Since New Beginnings currently serves FAMU students, faculty and community members year round, she feels it may be economically sound to limit the program to students only.

“If we became a student service-only facility then we could close when the University closes to cut costs,” Myers said.

Evans said Myer’s idea is a smart one.

“If that were to happen I feel that would be a most appropriate decision,” Evans said. “I believe wholeheartedly believe that any entity that serves the will of FAMU should take care of the University first. Those students are a priority to the University.”