By Brian Donahue
According to critics, the Berkeley/Albany YMCA is an irresponsible, corner cutting daycare operator that has amassed a litany of complaints. The city has fast tracked "outsourcing" as a way to make the Child Development Center pay for itself. Parents and residents have been chagrined by a refusal to consider other options. Many have noted that the city doesn't seem to want to entertain any idea other than immediate outsourcing. The Berkeley/Albany YMCA has stepped into the breach and has been championed as the best operator to take over running the Center, which the City has run since 1979.
April 6, 2010
Members of the City Council,
As you know, parents of children at the Emeryville Child Development Center (ECDC) have been in discussions with the City Council and City staff to oppose the idea of turning over operations of ECDC to a private provider since parents were informed of this possibility in late December 2009.
ECDC parents were told at a March 25, 2010 meeting that the City Manager currently intends to recommend that the City move ahead with a plan to turn over the ECDC facility to the Berkeley- Albany YMCA.
Until now we have largely opposed this move due to the harm that would come from firing all the excellent teachers at ECDC, many of whom we believe would be unwilling or unable to accept a position with the YMCA—if offered—due either to the lower pay and benefits or to the speed with which certain educational requirements would be mandated. However, we now write to inform you of some facts—surprising to us—that suggest that the very safety and well-being of Emeryville's children may be seriously jeopardized by such a change.
Accompanying this letter are copies of public documents retrieved from the California Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing Division (CCL). The documents detail a pattern of substantiated complaints and other cited deficiencies at the Berkeley-Albany YMCA's local facilities. The deficiencies cited range from minor lapses to the truly horrifying. To summarize a few that give us the greatest concern:
● An incident in which a 3-year-old walked out of the Ocean View facility unnoticed by staff and was discovered by a stranger down the street and later returned to the facility by Berkeley Police. (pp 75-76).
● An incident in which a teacher at the Berkeley YMCA 10th St. facility used a threatening voice and caused a child to urinate in their pants. (pp. 46-51).
● A report of a director withholding her attention from a child as a form of punishment and proceeding to ignore the child for an extended period of time. (pp. 39-40).
● An incident in which a teacher at the South YMCA location hit a child in the back of the head during circle time to get the child's attention. (pp. 27-28).
It boggles the mind to entertain the thought that a parent might go to pick up their child and find that the center's staff has lost their child. However, what we believe the accompanying documents reveal is not an unfortunate string of individually horrifying incidents, but rather a systemic unwillingness or inability to operate child care centers within the licensing framework established by California law.
To view Mr. Carver's research and analysis on the subject in its entirety, visit
http://bit.ly/baymca (94 pages of public documents from CCL).
http://bit.ly/ecdctr (15 pages of public documents from CCL).