Dour economy keeps Modesto day care attendance down

The gold rush days of endless glitter and glue are over at Kairos Child Development Center in Modesto, at least for now. These days, thanks to a drop in enrollment because of the slow economy, school supply purchases are kept to the bare essentials, said director Karma Souza.

"I've been in the child care business for close to 30 years," she said. "Two years ago, we were ordering new stuff all the time. Now, we're just ordering paint and paper."

The school has a stockpile of other supplies, so it's not as if the students have gone Spartan, Souza said. But spending is one of the things she and several other child care providers have cut back on in an effort to ride out the recession.

Many Central Valley child care providers are facing noticeable dips in enrollment. The drops range from 5 percent to almost 50 percent, making child care providers look at how to cut costs and keep the families they have happy.

Souza said her school has seen a 30 percent to 50 percent drop in enrollment throughout the year. She said in an average year, her center serves 40 to 50 families. This year, it has 26

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