Those of you that were working here in 2009 (or even if you weren’t) probably remember all of the angst and unrest that occurred when we increased our licensing fees for child care facilities (for the first time in over 20 years). The goal was to have licensing fee revenues cover the actual costs incurred by the State to ensure that childcare facilities are safe. The fee increases were sizable. For a facility with a capacity of more than 59 children, the fee for a three-year license increased from $150 to $7,800. However, as a result of the public comment, we introduced the Empower Pack which reduced the new fees by 50% as long as facilities agree to incorporate physical activity and nutrition activities that promote healthy lifestyles. Another result of the fee increase was the passage of SB 1315 last Session, which instructed us to conduct a cost study of our Child Care Licensing activities.
We published our study this week. There are a number of conclusions in the full report, including a finding that every category of licensed childcare facility is paying less in fees than it costs to license, inspect and regulate the facilities… because the Empower Pack Program (which uses Title V) pays for ½ of our licensing activity expenses in childcare. The cost study also examined the cost of the different types of activities of our team and found that inspections (34%) and licensure and certification process (30%) take the most time and effort.
One recommendation for improved efficiency was to adjust inspection frequency based on the risk profile of the facility. In other words, a place with a good compliance history could receive fewer comprehensive inspections than a facility that has a history of poor compliance. Another recommendation was that efficiency could be improved by adapting inspection schedules to inspect facilities near each other at the same time and to reduce the group home inspections from twice to once a year where warranted.
Cheers to Sandy Percival and her auditing team (they did the biggest chunk), Jim Humble, Tom Salow, Lynne Smith, Jennifer Tweedy, and of course Mary Wiley, Allan Oppenheim, Lourdes Ochoa, and of course the entire childcare licensing team for their work on this important project.