Quantcast

Aldermen want fresh look at day care rules

Evanston aldermen expressed frustration Tuesday with a health department inspection program that appears to duplicate work done by other government agencies.

The issue arose as home day care providers complained about a staff plan to start charging a $250 biennial fee for the inspections.

Evanston aldermen expressed frustration Tuesday with a health department inspection program that appears to duplicate work done by other government agencies.

The issue arose as home day care providers complained about a staff plan to start charging a $250 biennial fee for the inspections.

Martha Arntson, executive director of the Child Care Network of Evanston, said centers face a lot of duplication of requirements from the different government agencies.

The health department says Evanston now has 47 licensed home day care facilities.

Some providers said the city requires a medical exam and other checks that duplicate ones required by the state, which conducts a rigorous, three- or four-hour inspection each year.

In addition, providers said, the city’s rules in some respects conflict with state regulations. The state measures the space available at a day care site and uses a formula to determine how many children can be served, while the city imposes a flat cap of eight children per center.

Several speakers, including former alderman Edmund Moran, said the home day care providers are among "the most vunerable people in town" who could ill afford the proposed fee.

One provider said they average less than 50 cents an hour per child in net income after expenses. Several complained that the city capacity limits make it impossible for them to grow their businesses.

Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, said he was surprised to see the proposal, which the committee had rejected a year ago, back on the agenda.

"We have issues that were raised a year ago that needed to be clarified and have not been clarified," he said.

"I’m not for duplication of services, not, just because we’ve got folks available, to send them out to redo work," he added.

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said she wanted an explanation of why the city sets different limits than the state on the number of children a center can serve.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, said she "was having trouble understanding the public policy behind" the difference in the limits and suggested better aligning the city’s permit paperwork rules with those of the state.

"I’m also concerned about child care providers who are ‘off the radar screen’" and are operating without a license, she added. "I worry that a $250 fee would be a deterrent" to getting them to voluntarily register.

The aldermen voted to take the fee proposal off the committee’s agenda and directed staff to do further research on how to streamline the regulations.

Editors’ Picks