Budget cuts force closure of local daycare facility

By WEEK Producer

January 18, 2013 Updated Jan 18, 2013 at 10:53 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Minnie Rios was disappointed to learn this week that she'll have to pull her grandchildren out of the daycare program at South Side Mission.

"I really don't want to move the children to another place," Rios said. "They're comfortable here and they don't want to move. I already talked with them and they like it here."

But staying isn't possible. That's because budget cuts have forced South Side Mission to eliminate the child care program that it first established back in the 1930's that's now known as King's Kids. Thirty-two children will be affected and six teachers.

"It was purely a financial decision," said Phil Newton, executive director of South South Mission. "We had to make a tough call because South Side Mission did not have a very good year in 2012 and we need to live within our means."

By closing its daycare South Side Mission will save about $200,000. That will allow the mission to continue other important programs.

Newton knows it will be a hardship for some families.

"One of the great things about the King's Kids program here is that the daycare was free for a lot of the families we serve. Not every program out there is free," Newton explained.

To help families relocate their kids to new daycare Newton has been working the phones. He's already found interest in the six staff members the mission will soon let go.

"Rogy's and Little Friends both agreed to interview our staff. That's a wonderful blessing because that will make it easier for the staff to transition when the program ends," said Newton."

The last day will be March 27.