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Fair's message is clear
Good, affordable child care is needed

By Diego Bunuel
--Published May 31, 1998, The Miami Herald



Painted on cardboard, scrawled on paper and sung in choruses by dozens of Miami-Dade County children, the message was clear Saturday:  We need affordable, quality child care.

Some 2,000 people attended Stand for Children '98 at the Miami Museum of Science, part of a national effort to improve child-care centers.

"It is critical for our future that we make a difference for our kids today," said Chris Zawisza, an attorney for Children Forst Project, one of the event's organizers.  "We have to invest in early education if we don't want to be building prisons down the line."

But the seriousness of the debate, which will be argued in the state Legislature in the coming months, didn't stop children from standing for their right. . . to have fun.

Activities ranged from face painting to dances to arts and crafts.   Boys and girls ran under the museum's trees, their smiling faces decorated with roses and hands smudged in paint - something some moms weren't too wild about.

fair-message.jpg (34112 bytes)"Oh God!" said Darleen Johnston, looking down at her daughter Josephine, 8, whose latest masterpiece left her blue overalls zebra-like.   "I am going to ave to wash this over and over again."

For Xavier Cortada, a Miami lawyer but also a mural artist, this year's project was to create a mosaic of postcard-size drawings made by children.

"Each child is expressing what they think child care should be," Crotada said, standing next to a 12-by-6-foot mural that will soon decorate the cafeteria at the Centro Mater day-care center.  "It's a lot of impages to send a collective message about what we want in child care."

Acreoss the museum's parking lot, the engines of four medical trailers hummed steadily like a giant locust.

At the Mommobile, standing behind a barrage of medical literature, Betty Jane Lisko, a nursing supervisor for Healthy Start Program, explained what she and others are trying to do.

"We want to provide the best prenatal care for women who can't afford health services," Lisko said.  "This is all about giving all mothers a chance to raise a healthy baby."