The David and Lucile Packard Foundation in Los Altos, California, has announced a two-year, $5 million initiative to upgrade 169 playgrounds in San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Monterey counties. The new Child Care Playground Safety Initiative also will provide training and technical assistance materials to all 1,051 licensed child-care centers in the four counties.
In 2000, the state of California mandated new safety standards for licensed child-care centers, giving playground operators until January 2003 to implement them. However, the state did not make adequate funds available for repairs, upgrades, and costs related to bringing playgrounds up to code. The initiative attempts to address the funding shortfall by offering technical assistance and financial resources to upgrade playgrounds in the four counties.
Last year, the Packard Foundation funded the low-cost inspection of playgrounds at 529 child-care centers in the four-county area; of the 314 playgrounds inspected so far, nearly 75 percent are in need of immediate repair. Packard Foundation grantees conducting the inspections include Choices for Children in Santa Clara County; the Child Care Coordinating Council of San Mateo County; and KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit organization based in Redwood City, in Santa Cruz, and Monterey Counties.
"All children at all child care centers need safe places to play and to nurture their physical, cognitive, and social skills," said Darell Hammond, co-founder and CEO of KaBOOM!. "And through this initiative, the foundation and KaBOOM! are aiming to reach those centers that have the greatest need, and the fewest resources to fill the need. Working together, we will pool technical knowledge, community assets and safe equipment to create amazing new playgrounds."
The new Packard initiative will focus its efforts on child-care centers that serve low- and moderate-income families. Only nonprofit and non-publicly subsidized centers will be eligible for technical assistance and equipment upgrades. Severity of need will play a major role in the selection process. KaBOOM! will develop and manage playground workshops for all child-care centers in the four counties in late winter 2002. In addition, Boundless Playgrounds, a national nonprofit organization that works with communities to develop universally accessible playgrounds for children of all physical and cognitive abilities, will provide specialized workshops and trainings.