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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Supporters rally to keep an Echo Park child care center on a firm financial foundation

Playgroup started off nearly 40 years ago as a progressive concept in community-based day care called the Echo Park-Silver Lake People's Childcare Center. It was started by Ruth Beaglehole, who also founded the Center for Nonviolent Education and Parenting, to provide affordable child care to a working class neighborhood. While Playgroup still adheres to its progressive principals, the child care center located on Lakeshore Avenue in Echo Park is facing growing financial pressure in the wake of budget cuts. So, parents and supporters are holding a fundraiser and arts event Saturday night in a downtown loft as part of an effort to build a stronger financial base for the school.

"Playgroup ... is in an interesting position right now as a good portion of it's funding comes from state and city sources - which are drying up right now," said said Echo Park resident Ariadne Shaffer. "We are doing everything we can to help the school with its funds. This includes an extensive lobbying campaign with the city and a number of fundraisers."

The event, which includes a silent art auction featuring the work of Echo Park artists and a video installation, will also screen a 1970s documentary on the Playgroup. The school's philosophy and a mix of children from from a variety of racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds has attracted parents like Jenna Gulager, a soon-to-be Silver Lake resident who enrolled her 2-1/2 year-old son in the center last December.

"I think it's a really wonderful mix that reflects what our city is," Gulager said. "I think that's really important."

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