Twelve Years Later, Land Deal Yields Emergency Childcare Funds for L.A. County Kids

A subsidiary of a land developer in southern California recently made a six-figure donation to the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

Forestar Chatsworth, LLC., whose parent company is Foremost Companies, a land investment firm based in Newport Beach, Calif., donated $300,000 to DCFS earlier this month to be used toward “childcare services for children under the department’s supervision.”

The contribution was a condition of a land development deal made with the county in 2004, when the developer, who later sold the 150-acre Chatsworth parcel to Foremost Companies, finally got the project approved by the regional planning commission. The project, called Deerlake Ranch, was originally proposed in the late 1990s.

The Chatsworth property falls into the fifth supervisorial district, where Supervisor Mike Antonovich has held office since 1980.

Deerlake Ranch in Los Angeles County. Photo: Builderonline.com
Deerlake Ranch just off Highway 118 in Los Angeles County. Photo: Builderonline.com

According to transcripts from a meeting of the Board of Supervisors on March 23, 2004, Antonovich listed, among other conditions, “… $300,000 to be used for construction or operations of local childcare programs in the Chatsworth community.”

Jarrod DeGonia, field deputy for Supervisor Antonovich, said it is not uncommon for land development deals to include conditions like this. “It all depends on what the community needs at that time,” DeGonia said.

Since the Chatsworth area is not in need of a new capital project or a childcare facility, DeGonia said, the funds will be directed to DCFS to be used for emergency childcare.

A report issued in 2013 estimated that childcare costs in California were around $12,000 per year for infants. The Forestar donation could cover the cost of childcare for up to 25 infants for one year, which could make a significant impact on the lives of those infants and their families.

According to Helen Berberian, DCFS’ deputy director, there were nearly 200,000 children on childcare waitlists in the state of California in 2011. Children in foster care are given priority status on these waiting lists, but that does not mean a foster parent will immediately receive childcare assistance.

Half of California’s foster parents work outside the home, Berberian said in an email. The lack of available childcare creates a difficult predicament for current and would-be foster parents, but having funds for emergency childcare available may make it easier for a foster parent to take in a child.

“The $300,000 private donation seeks to bridge this gap by funding emergency childcare subsidies as the process proceeds to connect a newly-placed child with a working foster family to a permanent childcare slot,” Berberian said.

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Christie Renick
About Christie Renick 107 Articles
Tucson-based Southwest Editor for The Chronicle of Social Change. Follow @christiejrenick.

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