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City child care program cited with safety violations by state

Original post made on Nov 6, 2007

The Menlo Park Belle Haven school-age child care program has been hit with five safety violations, prompting more anger from parents already bitter about the controversial transfer of the program's most experienced employee earlier this year.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, November 7, 2007, 12:00 AM

Comments (28)

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 6, 2007 at 1:58 pm

Dore-Perez needs to get a life. Ms. Carlisle transfer is over and done with! besides the program was not license at the time Ms. Carlisle was solely in charge. I'm sure if it had been licensed there would have been numerous citations contribute to her lax supervision of the program.

If Ms. Perez is so concern about supervision how did she lose track of her own children during the summer outing where the knife incident took place?

This witch hunt continue and is all about the free ride Perez and her click is not longer enjoying at the expense of the program and the city.

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Posted by I dont think so
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 6, 2007 at 4:23 pm

The knife incedent sounds bad but I think Marcia is just out casuing trouble again. She never stops. why does she think she can represent everyone.

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Posted by and
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 6, 2007 at 4:24 pm

I hope the director didnt say it the way it was printed

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Posted by Here we go again!
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 7, 2007 at 8:46 am

Ms. Perez is at it again! After reading the article I can't help but wonder when she will stop? I hope she knows that with charges such as these the program could be closed. Would she be happy then? I would love to ask her if this is about the children or her own ego?

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Posted by Not so concerned parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 7, 2007 at 12:36 pm

Oh my Marcia give it a rest. I am a current parent at the after school program who had an older child who attended the program several years ago and i am satisfied with the job that the staff are doing at the program now. Vanessa needed to go and Marcia needs to be stopped, this has went on long enough. I know of Vanessa's past history of having favorites and catering to certain families when my oldest child was in the program , that is if you were part of her click you were taken care of. I believe Marcia is trying to get the program shut down, which will not help the other working families in the program that need the care who are happy with the service that they are receiving. If she's not happy and would like her kid's to be with Vanessa, she should enroll them at the Burgess after school program and leave our program along. There will be no other place for our children to go. [Portion removed by Almanac staff] Let the people at the after school program their jobs. [Portion removed] I say once again Marcia move on if your not happy and get a life, cause we are happy!

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Posted by Mrs. B - Menlo Park Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 8, 2007 at 1:11 pm

These comments are unbelievable. I can’t imagine that parents are overlooking actual state violations and instead placing total blame on one person. Regardless of her motives or her own personal issues with the program, we need to look at the issue at hand. The state has issued violations…what does that mean to you? It means that the child care center is in violation of state laws…regardless of any witch-hunt or whatever else you want to call. Also, since when is it a witch-hunt when a parent seeks out good care for their children. Regardless of what you think about the parents involved, we do need to take a close look at what’s really going on in the childcare center. Not only the inequality between the two sides when it comes to actual resources at the centers, but also the lack of quality care on the Belle Haven Side.

My daughter is a student at the Belle Haven Center and here are some if the issues that I have noticed first hand.

1. A 6 year old child was left behind, unattended, on a busy street corner for over an hour when the Belle Haven After School Program forgot to pick him up. (If a parent left their child unattended on a street corner for over an hour they would be facing child endangerment charges)
2. The staff, while friendly, are far from the teachers that are provided on the west side. Their interaction with the children is minimal. They use inappropriate language and behavior in front of the students (is a respectful environment for your children too much to ask)
3. The Knife Incident – Ms. Barbara …Is this in your mind, just an overly sensitive parent issue? Not much needs to be said about the severity of this situation.

I could go on an on, but that’s not necessary. I just want to make a point that regardless of how you feel about one parent, we need to look beside that and think about the program and the ways that we can actually make it better for our children.

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Posted by George aka Jorge
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 8, 2007 at 1:24 pm

It looks like Barbara and friends have already populated the responses. Good for you, but the people of Menlo Park are smart enough to read between the lines and recognize that the real issue here is the quality of care that the children are receiving. This is not about Vanessa or Marcia. This is about wanting QUALITY after school childcare for our children.

“Ms. Santos George said the citations are 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.”

Is that how you really feel Barbara? Are we being overly critical by demanding good care for our children? Are we asking for more than anyone else would want for their children?

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Posted by Marcia Perez
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 8, 2007 at 1:30 pm

Well I can see those of you who posted your comments you don't have the courage to print your name or confront me face-to-face. Clearly demonstrating your immaturity and reflective of your petty comments. I am sure most of you are too young and inexperienced to understand what quaility childcare is. I am sure some of you are the inexperienced staff that us working mothers are VERY concerned about. I am not alone in the fight for quality care. Over 100 people have showed up to meetings, city workshops and city council meetings. Perhaps you should be more concerned about your community.

First, it is my absolute right as a mother that my children receive quality care. Kids bringing knifes to the program and threatening to kill each other while no one is watching them should concern any parent. If the Staff knew how to do their jobs and the licensing requirements there would be no violations. This is licensed child care people, not babysitting!!!

Secondly, I am sure those of you who posted your comments are the teenage staff that I refer to that either do not care about our kids because they are just a paycheck or lack the maturity to care for children. The things a group of parents complained about this summer were: (1) The children listening to adult themed sexually explicit music; (2) the girls gyrating, grinding and spanking their bottoms to such music; (3) the staff continuoulsy on their cell phones, ipods and gossiping about boyfriends and affairs within ear shot of young girls when they should be watching our kids; (4) Beechwood kids not getting picked up and no one notifying the parents.

Thirdly, my daughter was severly hurt when the staff let a 130 pound 5 th grader through a dodge ball at the head of my 50 pound 1st grader. She had a huge bruised eye for weeks. The staff was so ill trained and unprofessional they did not even tell their supervisor who in turn could not even tell me what happened until 5 days later. This is against the law and the center was cited.

As to the parent regarding the program several years ago, it was wonderful then. I have been at Belle Haven for almost 4 years. I have no complaints to the way it was ran then. I emphasize then. It is as of the last 6 months that the staffing has been so severly cut that it has effected the quality of care. And the experience and qualifications of the staff are much lower than what it was several years ago. If parents were more involved with the center and the parent meetings you might start to understand what has been happening to the program. Remember not every child's expriences are the same. Some of the children have been exposed to real safety hazards. Such as when a 6 year old child was left at a bus stop to wait for over 30 mintutes before someone from Belle Haven whet to pick that child up. It was not your child, but how do you think that mother felt. Some of the staff are great and do a wonderful job, they know who they are.

Wake up. I am fighting for quaility care for all of us. The City Council would not allow the center to shut down. But all of this will force them to pay attention to who they hire and how they train them. I do not want my kids simpley warehoused but enriched. I would hope you would want the same.

You may think your comments are cute. But you are way too immature and petty to know the severity of this matter. Maybe if the city gets sued they will take more control over their staff. The adults are concerned about this matter, very concerned. One day when you grow up and have children of your own you hopefully will be wiser and active in making sure your children are safe.


As for the free ride... I have paid about $10,000 in taxes a year for the last 20 years.... you do the math. Low income families deserve quality care also. I get no free rides. I am one of the hardest working people you will ever meet. I do my job well. How about you?

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Posted by Allyson
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Nov 8, 2007 at 1:43 pm

As a completely appalled parent from “west” Menlo Park I am really disappointed both by Mrs. Santos Georges’ response and the response of the “parents” (although I am skeptical that any parent would respond in such a way to dismiss such severe charges and instead direct their attention to Marca).

The issue that Belle Haven is looking at is these charges. Why is no one asking what can we do to make things better?

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Posted by S. Henderson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 8, 2007 at 1:58 pm

Shame on you City of Menlo Park. Why are you treating the Belle Haven parents and residents so poorly? Is it because they are black and latino? Does their skin color determine weather or not their children deserve adequate child care? It saddens me to see how quickly you dismiss their charges, while you jump as soon as any one parent on the west side says jump. Believe me, I know. I live on Crane Street in Menlo Park and have children that have grown up in Menlo Park. My days as a teacher however has allowed me to witness what goes on both sides of 101. Shame on you City of Menlo Park!

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Posted by Marcia
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 8, 2007 at 2:06 pm

Oh, one last comment.....someone said I was not supervising my children during and outing when the knife incident took place....The knife incident took place Friday, August 3rd at the center. My children do not go to the program on Fridays. Get your facts straight. So either you work there or you are Barbara!

Sounds like some of these postings are coming from Barbara's office or her circle. The language used like "witch hunt" "lax" and "ego" are really not part of our vernacular. Sounds like words from the west side....hmmm..... Real parents would be concerned for their kids and not kill the messanger. I did not make up the violations! Barbara violated them.

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Posted by Megan
a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2007 at 3:33 pm

Wow! The city of menlo park has some issues. From this article i see barbara trying to take the attention away from the incident by blaming concerned parents. I would be conccerned too if a knife was drawn on any student at my children's school.

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Posted by It's all in the name
a resident of Corte Madera School
on Nov 8, 2007 at 3:42 pm

The title of the article says it all. That is what we should be focused on.

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Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 9, 2007 at 8:54 am

This is crazy. I do agree with Mrs B mostly. There is a bigger problem of the knife incident and other problems that need to be taken care of. Kids deserve a safe place to be. I also hope Ms Goeroge was misquoted because if not there is another problem.

My problem is with ms Perez. She scares a lot of people with the way she acts and there are people that support the ideas she has but dont support the way she says things. Look at the way she went after the workers in her posting. I think most of the kids come from here. Maybe they need more support? If they don’t have the leadership she talks about. She makes us sound like we dont have any education when she says that lax and ego are not in our language. That is an unfair generalization. Big word I know. Ms Perez opened it up when she said there was a connection with these violations and Vanessa not being there. Maybe she was misquoted to. Do you know why I dont use my name because I don’t want her to bully me. I know others don’t want that either.

Please fix this for the kids.

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Posted by Menlo mother
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 9, 2007 at 11:03 am

I've heard from a teacher at a Redwood City daycare that there is a huge amount of competition for a job whenever a spot opens up at Menlo Children's Center. It's considered a great job.

It sounds like this is not the case at the Belle Haven daycare, but it should be. Both daycares are run by the city and offer the same salaries and benefits -- don't they? Why isn't Belle Haven attracting and hiring better staff to care for the children?

This really worries me. All kids deserve safe, enriching, nurturing care, no matter what side of the freeway they're on.

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Posted by Marcia
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 9, 2007 at 11:21 am

To Here we go again:

The violations are not reflective of the aides and supervised staff but of the top administrators and program coordinators not instilling comprehensive policies and clear directives to the staff. If you are not doing your job correctly in violation of regulations that is not your fault but the person who should have clearly trained you. It reflects the lack of well thought out policies and the lack leadership at the facility. Most of the newer staff have no idea what has been going on the last two years so your are caught in the cross fire and in the middle of the parents' stuggle and demand for quality care. There are so many more things that could be done better from a policy standpoint. If you want to gain some workable knowledge on this issue and self empower yourself to the possibilities of our center I implore you to go the Burgess center for one day and really observer and take in their operation. Maybe even talk to their staff about how well trained they are and how much the city has invested in their education and their policies and you will be absolutely amazed of the differences. You will ask yourself "why don't we do this or why can't we have a system like that." You will slowly realize that your job duties have not been adequately defined for you and hopefully you would want more leadership out of your supervisors. If you are in training to be a teacher or plan to work with kids you must learn all that you can to do the best for the children. You need to cultivate and develop the required skills. Child rearing cannot be taught in a book and sometimes what we learned at home is not enough. It comes with years of patience and wisdom.

But I will admit that Chris is doing a spectacular job and I am sure she is training staff to much higher standards. I do not know why you are scared. You do not know me well enough to be scared. I have always conducted myself in a professional manner and never approached the staff with hostility. Any issues and frustrations I have with the program I have always directed straight to the top with the program coordinator or director of commnity services. Anything you have heard about me is second hand and probably from questionable sources. Part of entering the adult world is dealing with adult issues face-to-face and fear is not an element of parents when looking for the best for their children. If you have concerns, don't be afraid address it with the Program or at parent meetings. If you approach me I promise I won't bite your head off. We may actually learn something from one another. My "ego" is not as big as you have been told. Your supervisors try to make it about "me" so the quality of their job peformance can pass under the radar. I hope you see through that tactic too.

As an aside, I did not say "ego" and "lax" were not part of our "vocabulary." But part of our "vernacular" - every day language we use to interact within our own community and culture.

I hope you are sincere and really want to see change. I know I do. You can call me many things, but I ALWAYS fight for the right things for our kids. Most people have trouble disagreeing with what I say. You do not have to like me. I do not need you to ike me. Honesty should be what the process is about and the City is not intested in honesty, ethics or fairness.

Good Luck!

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Posted by Ms. W
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 9, 2007 at 11:33 am

I have a child in care. I must admit its a very well established private facility. If I ever saw violations like that I would definately pull my child from the program. So many violations are not commonly found elsewhere. I had the luxury of researching each program I was interested in and asking for recommendations before chosing my site carefully, but I know so many families can't do that. I feel bad they must suffer through lack of adequate care. The City should want to fix this problem. With all the talk about the Park Theatre project and the $2.2 million for that the city should reinvest in its infrastructure. It would be the hope of most people I think that Ms. George took the issues more seriously instead of blaming the parents.

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Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 9, 2007 at 3:46 pm

Marcia. Thank you for the letter back. Just to make sure people know I am not one of the program staff. I do not want anyone to think that. I rember what happend to some staff that said things a couple of years ago. I think you are feel what you are saying I just wish you did things diferent sometimes. I have read your letters and you write well. I have heard you speak and you speak well. Sometimes I feel that you being upset makes some of that change and you dont make people see the issues because of the way it comes out. You have a talent and are educated and have a good chance at making sure our voices are heard. Please just be careful how you represent us. I want what is best for the neighborhood. People are right. This should focus on the kids and not adults.

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Posted by Can't Speak
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 9, 2007 at 10:36 pm

marcia, the first few e-mails against you were written by staff.

... [Sentence deleted by Almanac because it accuses specific people, apparently below management level, of doing something. This forum is not appropriate for that. Comment on management by department head is probably OK.] ...

I feel so bad for the residents of Menlo Park when their "professional" city workers act like sorority girls. I wish I could say something on your behalf but I would be fired. I want you to know a lot of the staff on west of the freeway are on your side. Last week Barbara unveiled her plan for the reorganization of the department and she does not know what she is doing. We are hoping her days are numbered.

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Posted by Marcia
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 12, 2007 at 9:34 am

Thank you can't speak. I saw your e-mail before it was edited. Thank you for confirming what I some of the moms already thought. In the last 10 years or so the only about one person from Belle Haven usually sends a letter to the Almanac editor, then all of a sudden this blog shows a handful of residents from Belle Haven responding? What made it really suspicious was the fact they were all posted early Tuesday afternoon as if the persons knew the article was coming. No one at Belle Haven knew the article was coming and we don't get the paper until late Tuesday or early Wed. The blogs had to be from the west side. Thank you for pointing out it was Managment staff like Barbara, Nancy and their underlings! I can quit wasting my time responding to their phoney comments.

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Posted by Chris
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 14, 2007 at 7:32 am

After reading the comments that have been posted over the past week, I felt I needed to respond to the issues. First of all, I would like to say that it is a licensed center's responsibility to stay within licensing regulations. It is the licensing department's job to shut down a center that does not stay within those regulations. This means that if the child care center was continuing to operate outside of those guidelines, the license would be revoked.

The claims made to the licensing department were made by a parent that is concerned about the children in the center. In my opinion, parents have every right to be concerned when a knife is brought to school and another child feels threatened by that knife even if it isn't your child involved. I know I would feel concerned about my children in that situation.

However, the fact that the licensing board continues to allow this center to retain their license means that they believe that the children do not remain in danger. The incident and citations happened during a time when the department was in transition. This transition did not happen smoothly and the consequences of that is being witnessed.

That does not mean that the City of Menlo Park does not take what has happened very seriously. The staff all have been fingerprinted and have clearance with the exception of one. The reason for that exception is because that person is a minor and minor's do not have a criminal background to check. This is the reason that this person remains under constant supervision of the program's director or teacher.

This has always been the case. In fact, the City of Menlo Park requires each employee to have fingerprinting done at two separate locations. The city would not allow someone to work that doesn't have the criminal background check. What happened was that once they have been cleared to work for the city, they did not know that the clearance needed to be transferred between Menlo Children Center and Belle Haven School Age Center because both fall under the city's jurisdiction.

The teacher/child ratio was not kept on the day of the incident and was a result of the staff transition. Currently, the appropriate ratio is kept. In fact, the center is hiring yet another teacher.
Also, the current staff continue to be trained and will continue to be trained.

Through all of this, the number one concern of everyone involved is the children. This shouldn't be about Marcia, the licensing board, Barbara, Nancy, her underlings (I am one of those) or who is to blame. The time for blame is over. This needs to be about how to move forward, learn from what happened in order to make things better. I ask you to direct your anger and energies at making this a better place for children.

It pains me to see the obvious fight that it happening here because it detracts from the conversations that should be happening. Not only that but it pits the people that should be working together against each other. I love these children and think that they deserve the best. I think that there are many people who agree with me. Let's have conversations about how to make this the best place for the children, not tear each other down.

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Posted by Well put
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 14, 2007 at 8:30 am

Well put Chris and good luck!

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Nov 14, 2007 at 11:13 am

One problem with the city childcare system is the union that represents employees. It also makes it difficult to reward top employees. It's very difficult to manage and practically impossible to remove underperforming employees. Issues are hidden from parents and residents. The city doesn't want to call attention to it.

This is one of the fundamental reasons that the city should not be in the childcare business.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 14, 2007 at 12:31 pm

It\'s time that the council paid some attention to the challenges of improving our Belle Haven Programs.

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Posted by Concern in Belle Haven
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 16, 2007 at 2:06 pm

The staff is the same as when Ms. Carlisle was there with the exception of maybe 1 or 2 including the temp director who has been there since July when the permentent director Natasha Watkins went on maternity leave. I am sure alot the problems happen because of the transitions and changes in the program. The staff is capable of doing a fine job of caring for the children of Belle Haven.

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Posted by A Real PARENT
a resident of another community
on Nov 18, 2007 at 8:11 pm

Where are the children and what are they doing while the grown adults are arguing on the internet playground. Maybe knives are an issue because no one is spending quality time raising the children. I have a four year old and seven year old that have better conflict resolution than this. School and or day care is not the only place children need a loving stable environment. Spend more time teaching your children values, self worth, and self respect. With those three things under their belt it would not make a difference how terrible the system, center, or teacher was. They would grow to be the people that you are requesting the teachers be, great teachers. Parents are the #1 teacher that a child has. Remember your behavior and actions teach your child or children more than any teacher will. Shame on the teachers and parents for even giving this argument validity. Teachers and parents are the only allies that the children of the world have, WORK TOGETHER all of you. Teach them to be great, and pray that they know better than the example you guys are setting forth. I wouldn't be so concerned with the violations as I would be concerned with the child like behavior that the adults are showing the children is ok. Teamwork is the only tool anyone needs to raise great children. You (parents and teachers) are raising our future, get a life. Whoever you are Barbara, get help hun, you should be just as concerned, if not more for the children's safety. It is any parents inherent right to question their child's safety, when left with any type of caregiver. Marcia good luck. Stay strong in your argument, apparently you are the only one with the children at heart. As for the underlings, don't follow bad direction, be leaders.

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Posted by concerned
a resident of another community
on Nov 18, 2007 at 9:23 pm

What do you Barbara, hope to accomplish by belittling concerned parents?
Do you have children? Are you not concerned for their safety? Did you get where you are today because your parents were not concerned? It appears that you are arguing for the sake of argument. Did you help to find the misplaced children? Or were you too concerned with gossiping about Marcia and the fact that her children were lost? You are spending so much time picking on Marcia, it leaves one to wonder when you have time to do your job? If any one person feels that there is a problem and/or concern, perhaps you should rationally address their concerns rather than force blame on others. A sign of a good leader is someone with the ability to look inward not only outward. If you feel that untrue accusations have been made, don't perpetuate the problem by lashing back. Cure the problem by showing the accusations are untrue, prove them wrong. Your current actions are making me believe that maybe some of the concerns are valid. You make yourself look guilty acting this way. Take it from an outside point of view, you are not handling this in a professional manner. This would be my first concern. My second concern would be the issues between you, your staff, and the parents. Third, not last or least, would be the safety violations. Your number one job is to protect the children under your care, no matter what. Maybe you are in the wrong position, if your main concern is Marcia. You are supposed to as a teacher and/or mentor inspire, challenge, and teach values. If the adults responsible for my child's care acted the way you have in this situation, they would likely not have the same job at the end of this week. Are you in this profession for a pay check to serve yourself or are you here to serve the children. You made a commitment to very impressionable children when you agreed to the responsibilities that your job demands.

The fact that some people are less fortunate and have financial burdens or as you put it "enjoy a free ride", does not make their opinion or voice any less important. If they had all the financial stability one could ask for and were enjoying "a free ride" it still doesn't make their opinions or concerns any less important, or make their child less deserving of a safe environment.

In closing, there are to many things parents have to worry about with children, than to worry about whether the place they leave there child is safe. Nothing is guaranteed, no one place will ever be 100% safe. Fix the problems and assure the parents you are doing the best of your ability, instead of picking on their concerns. Be a grown up.

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Posted by Concerned
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 19, 2007 at 8:10 pm

The City of Menlo Park has a huge responsibility for it's citizens regardless of race,money, neighborhood, etc. to protect them especially the young ones. It is appalling that in a city where there are so many resources $$$ this is happening. I blame it on City officials (City Manager, City Council, Community Services Director) for allowing this to be happening. The problem with the city is that they hire the wrong people for the wrong jobs. The city also does not want to put more resources in child care and therefore they hire young, inexperienced, low paid staff. However, this is the case for everyone working in child care. We need to start taking a good look and demand quality care for our young citizens and require degrees for the teachers, pay them more and require regular trainings. Barbara be careful with what you say and get educated on how to operate a quality child care program. You cant be running a licensed child care program as a recreation program.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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