California’s child care shortage is dire. A key requirement for a provider to open a large family child care home is to pass a fire inspection. Safety is critical, but the inspection process has historically been onerous and expensive, with requirements that did not impact safety. “It’s a huge financial burden on family child cares,” one provider said.
With Child Care Law Center’s advocacy, the State Fire Marshal issued guidelines that made requirements in all cities uniform. But many fire departments, including Sacramento’s, were unaware. Their reliance on outdated information meant providers were paying hundreds of dollars in fees.
Our Family Child Care Advocate, Toni Robertson, helped the fire department update its guidelines to match the state. The department is now refunding approximately $400,000 to more than 1,300 Sacramento-based child care providers unlawfully charged for more than a year. That money is crucial to providers operating on razor-thin budgets and working upwards of 12 hours per day. It is a huge breath of relief for the future.