Child Care Council curious of inspector
A panel of child advocates fired questions at a social services licensing head Wednesday in reaction to claims made by providers that a state inspector has made more than 20 visits they consider intimidating.
Regional Manager Charles Boatman of the River City branch of Community Care Licensing in Sacramento met with 10 women during the monthly meeting of the Child Care Coordinating Council.
Community Care Licensing oversees 10 counties including Nevada and is a division of the State Department of Social Services.
More than 20 childcare providers in Nevada County have made anonymous claims that state inspector Morgan Gallardo has been overly zealous in enforcing regulations, but Boatman said the department cannot lead an investigation or take corrective action until providers bring facts to the case by writing formal appeals.
“I’m not going to say to you I’m going to fire an employee,” Boatman said to the group. During his almost 11-year tenure, Boatman said, four people have been terminated.
In 2006, the River City office was audited by the State Bureau of Audit along with four other state licensing agencies. Since then, the office has made it a priority to send inspectors to follow up after citations have been issued and to investigate complaints within 10 days.
Boatman said claims of harassment have not come into his office. He assured providers that appeal letters would be kept confidential and punitive action would not be taken against them if they came forward.
Providers have not reported to Boatman’s office because they fear retaliation, said Elizabeth MacKenzie, the county’s childcare ombudsperson.
“That’s the crux of the problem right there,” said MacKenzie, who has served as a confidante for providers.
Providers have said the appeals process is long and arduous with little results. Boatman said the department aims to respond to appeals within 30 days.
“If there is something going wrong in the field, I have to know,” Boatman said. During the meeting, Boatman acknowledged that people were unsatisfied and attempted to soothe those in attendance with picture-perfect descriptions of the way the law is supposed to work.
That didn’t seem to appease members of the council.
“It’s important that you know how it’s supposed to work is not what people are experiencing,” MacKenzie said.
Boatman said when and if employee conduct is evaluated, the corrective action will remain in-house, and appeals will be used for staff training.
Boatman will return to Grass Valley on May 19 for a child care provider forum.
Letters of appeals can be submitted to: Community Care Licensing, River City Regional Office, 8745 Folsom Boulevard, Suite 200, Sacramento, CA 95826 or call (916) 229-4530 or fax (916) 387-1933.
To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4230.
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