Checking up on your child’s care

Layne Grace, 2, right, tries out magnetic building blocks at one of the more than 20 booths on hand at the Santa Clarita Valley 6th Annual Preschool Fair held at The Centre in Santa Clarita on Saturday. Dan Watson/The Signal
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espite recent controversy in the news involving daycare locations in the Santa Clarita Valley and beyond, there are numerous safe local options.

Parents searching for a suitable daycare in the Santa Clarita Valley may find themselves operating under a cloud of doubt and apprehension given a couple of disturbing developments this past year.

Although no daycare kids were hurt, a murder-suicide in January 2018 left four family members dead inside a home on Startree Lane that housed a state-licensed child care center.

The daycare maintained a spotless track record since it opened its doors to the public, according to state licensing documents and a spokesman for the state’s Social Services Department.

“The home was licensed in 2010. It was last inspected in 2016,” Michael Weston, deputy director of public affairs and outreach programs for the California Department of Social Services, said in January 2018.

“There are no citations in the past five years,” he said at the time. A review of the file kept by state officials on the daycare revealed an exemplary track record, void of complaints or problems.

State officials inspected the Startree Lane day care on three occasions
in the last four years and found no problems.

A year after the murder-suicide, news emerged at a separate and unrelated daycare that a 3-year-old girl was allegedly recorded on video by a daycare staffer — no longer with the daycare business.

According to the lawyer presenting the girl’s mother in a lawsuit filed against the daycare, the staffer/ teacher videotaped the girl’s naked bottom as she napped at school and disseminated the video on the social media platform, Snapchat, with the caption, “She is ready for that three- day weekend.”

Sgt. Brian Hudson with the LASD Special Victims Bureau said in February: “The case was submitted to the district attorney’s office. We are waiting for a decision on whether criminal charges will be filed.”

Licensed daycare

For parents shopping for a daycare — home-based or a business — there are ways they can ascertain right off the bat if it’s legitimate.

“A licensed facility must post a copy of the license,” said Michael Weston, deputy director of public affairs and outreach programs for the California Department of Social Services.

If the daycare is home-based or a business, it must be licensed by the state. The state of California refers to these daycares as family child-care homes or child-care centers — regardless of which type of business, the entity must have a state license, Weston said.

Daycare seekers are likely to find child-care centers inside a com- mercial building, where kids of just about all ages — infant to school age — receive non-medical care and are supervised in a group setting.

Those looking specifically for day- care centers inside a home that reflect a home-like environment are likely to also find a place where supervised kids get non-medical care.

The state breaks down the home- based family child care homes into two groups:

Small-Family Child Care
Homes 
provide care to no more than eight children

Large-Family Child Care
Homes 
provide care to no more than 14 children.

But, large or small, home or business, the important thing to remember is that they are all licensed.

If there is no posted license at the daycare — that should be a red flag to daycare seekers.

However, not finding a license on the door or window of the daycare doesn’t mean the facility isn’t legitimate, Weston said this past week, pointing out that the state also recognizes “license-exempt child care” facilities.

License-exempt daycares

There are four types of license-exempt daycares, they include:

• Individuals who care for the children of a relative, or who care for the children of one other family in addition to their own children. Certain parent cooperatives, in which families rotate care on an unpaid basis are also exempt;

• Public, as well as private nonprofit programs that offer recreational services. These programs include some community centers, as well as most parks and recreation programs;

• Businesses that offer limited child care to their clients and customers. These programs usually require that the parent or guardian remain on the premises, and that the parents or guardians remove their children within a specified amount of time;

• Programs that are overseen by state agencies other than Community Care Licensing. For example, organized camps that are overseen by the Department of Public Health and heritage schools that are overseen by the Department of Education.

Daycare searchers looking for city-run daycares should be aware that there are none.

City preschool program

The city of Santa Clarita does not operate licensed child care facilities or programs that fall under the state of California’s Educational Code.

The city does, however, offer several well-staffed — good student-to-teacher ratio — preschool programs.

The City’s Primetime Preschool programs — for kids 3 to 4 — operate by September 1 each year inside the community rooms of city parks including:

Canyon Country Park 17615 W. Soledad Canyon Road

Newhall Park 24933 Newhall AveNorth Oaks Park 27824 N. Camp

Plenty Road

Santa Clarita Park 27285 Seco Can- yon Road

ValenciaGlenPark 23750ViaGavolaValencia Meadows Park 25671

Fedala Road

Child360

Daycare seekers wanting profes- sional guidance before making a de- cision are invited to call daycare spe- cialists working with the non-profit, Child360.

Child360 is a nonprofit that pur- sues a mandate of trying to ensure “every child has the educational opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.”

It serves nearly 600 locations across Southern California, including nine in the SCV.

Working alongside trusted commu- nity partners, the group strives to im- prove the quality of early learning and elevates the early learning industry through program support, professional development, advocacy, research, and community engagement.

”Once a provider is assessed and rated, and provided with a coach,” Child360 spokeswoman Rachel Stoffel said.

“Programs are assessed and rated every two years,” she said.

“So, the coach is designed to work ongoing with the program, to continually elevate the quality of their program,” Stoffel said. “Essentially, it’s a partnership to help them establish their goals, meet their goals, and continually elevate the quality of care they pro- vide,” she said.

Student-teacher ratio

If daycare seekers have a just a couple of checkpoints on their list of possible daycares, one concern should be placed high in that list, said Stoffel — the student to teacher ratio.

“It’s important that each child gets seen and that their unique needs are met,” she said this past week.

For example, she said, if there was a fire drill, the best scenario a parent could hope for is to see that “for each child there was an adult hand to hold.”

Details on teacher-student ratio that should prove helpful to parents, she said, include:

Small Family Child Care Center

1 teacher: 8 children

Large Family Child Care Cen- ter 1 teacher, 1 assistant: 14 children

Child Care Center (Infants / toddlers, ages 0-2) 1 teacher: 4 children

Child Care Center (Preschoolers, ages 2-5) 1 teacher: 12 children

Local daycare

Child care centers in the SCV helped by Child360 include:
• Newhall Elementary Preschool
• Newhall State Preschool (Peach- land)
• Newhall State Preschool(Mc- Grath)
• Newhall State Preschool (OakH- Ills)
• Santa Clarita State Preschool
• Mountain View Fun for Fours
• Leona Cox State Preschool
• Canyon Springs State Preschool • Sulphur Springs

Anyone wanting to know more about Child360 can visit the group’s website at www.child360.org

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