Child care providers must file appeals |

Child care providers must file appeals

If childcare providers want an investigation into claims of overly zealous inspections by state licensing agents, they must submit formal appeals, heads of the Department of Social Services said Thursday.

Negative feedback about state inspectors working in Nevada County has not come into the Sacramento office of Community Care Licensing, Regional Manager Charles Boatman said. The office is a division of the California Department of Social Services.

More than 20 providers have complained of needlessly stringent inspections to Nevada County’s child care ombudsperson, but say they are fearful of retaliation if they bring their claims forward to Social Services.

“That’s unfair, because those people have not identified themselves,” Department of Social Services spokesperson Shirley Washington said.

“I can do a thorough investigation if I have all the facts in the case,” said Boatman, adding that he needs specific allegations. “We’re really trying to get a picture of what the issues are so we can understand them.”

The agency gets numerous complaints about providers, but few complaints are targeted at inspectors, Boatman said. “If we have made a mistake, we’ll admit that.”

One anonymous provider told The Union that inspectors abused their power when she filed a complaint about a falsified report. She was visited 12 times in two years and issued pages of violations. So far, she said, she has spent $10,000 in legal fees.

Complaints like that have caught the attention of California Childcare Resource and Referral Network, which is holding a series of meetings with Social Service representatives to get to the root of what they see as a state-wide problem.

“These kinds of complaints are not specific to Nevada County,” said Bonnie Taylor, Interim Executive Director of Sierra Nevada Children’s Services.

Last month, Boatman met with providers at a meeting held at Children’s Services. He said providers were given information on stricter state laws, enforcement protocol and provider’s appeal rights.

A state law that went into effect in January requires providers to give families printed copies of all serious, or Type A, citations for the past year. A tougher policy designed to protect children means inspectors make more visits until the problem is corrected, Boatman said.

“Child safety is the highest priority for the Department of Social Services,” Washington said.

On May 19, Boatman will return to Nevada County for another meeting with providers. Family childcare providers will meet from 10 a.m. to noon and childcare centers will meet from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Sierra Nevada Children’s Services, 256 Buena Vista St., in Grass Valley.

To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail or call 477-4231.

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