Viewpoint - November 21, 2007

Belle Haven parents blast day care program

by Marcia Dore-Perez

Many of the parents with children enrolled in the Belle Haven after-school program were disappointed in Barbara George's comments published in the Nov. 7 Almanac about the multiple violations at the Belle Haven Children's Center being "less a reflection of the program, and more a result of parents being overly critical in an effort to get Ms. Carlisle back to Belle Haven."

Blaming the parents detracts focus from the low performance of the center under her direction and distracts from the fact that the city has permitted unsafe conditions and lax standards to become the norm at the Belle Haven program. Ms. George "shoots the messenger" and ignores that her department failed to comply with California licensing requirements.

There are laws to protect our children. Parents have an absolute and unequivocal right to report licensing violations to ensure protection of their children. The violations are not the fault of the parents but were committed by the city. These issues were raised by parents but ignored by Ms. George.

Children getting hurt and bruised, a knife and death threat, lack of qualified staff watching children after 4:30 (more than half their daily stay), plus many incidents never reported to licensing authorities but raised with the city, such as sexually explicit adult-themed music being played and a 6-year-old child being left at a bus stop for over 30 minutes, with even Ms. George agreeing to retrieve the child. All of this does not even meet the minimal standards of care and safety.

The parents had clearly stated that the meetings with the city were not about Vanessa Carlisle but the descending quality of care, including the lack of standards and the absence of comprehensive policies.

The key issues are: How does the city translate policy into a reality regarding the care of our children? What assurances do parents have that our concerns will be properly addressed and not just swept under the rug as past incidents have been? There appears to be an atmosphere within the Community Services Department that "anything goes at Belle Haven" and that coordinators and supervisors are permitted to violate licensing requirements without any consequences. Where is the accountability?

Ms. George has squandered an opportunity to work with the parents and has betrayed our trust. She failed to state to the Almanac that state licensing authorities have been investigating the center on their own accord. The parents never knew background checks were not conducted or that the care of our children was left to under-age staff.

To blame the parents is deceptive. Ms. George is telling the community that the Belle Haven parents' concerns are not legitimate and the knife incident, death threat, lack of proper ratios, inadequate background checks for child predators/molesters and lack of adequate supervision should be of no concern because violations are everywhere? These are not minor violations.

There were six violations in four months, some of them Class A violations — the most severe by state standards. An apology to the parents is in order.

This article was submitted by Belle Haven Child Care parents Marcia Dore-Perez, Dawn Platt, Jackie White-Thomas, Consuela Clark and Carmelite Souffront, and written by Ms. Dore-Perez.


Posted by What ever, a resident of another community
on Nov 20, 2007 at 11:35 am

Whatever Marcia

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