When the new owner took possession of the former River Kids Preschool last November, the staff and clientele were hopeful for a seamless transition. The prospects for 2019 looked great.
The agreement to house the preschool in the basement of the Community Presbyterian Church in Three Rivers was transferable so where to have the preschool was not a problem. Enrollment was up; new students, new parents, new teachers all brought renewed excitement to an already established program.
What the reorganized local preschool wasn’t counting on was the red tape and other obstacles from the State of California. Every preschool must be approved and licensed by Community Care Licensing, a department of California Social Services in Sacramento.
In a recent phone call, Veronica Contreras, the owner of Learning Trails Preschool, was told that for every new applicant there is a mandatory waiting period from 60 to 90 days from the time the application is received just to be notified of an available date for inspection.
The inspections ensure that the preschool is operated according to the California Health and Safety Code and the facility is free from the risks and effects of lead exposure. Each applying parent or guardian enrolling a child must be provided with written information about lead exposure and how to obtain blood testing for lead.
For Learning Trails Preschool, serving a couple of dozen students, the inspection won’t be a problem but the waiting period can be devastating. Most parents who depend on care for children ages 2-5 can ill-afford to wait and some will seek other alternatives for child care.
Seeking other alternatives will most likely mean going down the hill to seek spots in other problems. Another long-established program at St Clements Anglican Church in Woodlake is a viable option. They are currently full to capacity but there is a waiting list. (Contact Sandy Crawford, day care director, (559) 564-8668.)
There are likely openings in other licensed child care situations in Exeter or Visalia but all that driving, and the fact that it’s only temporary, makes these viable to local parents only as an emergency last resort.
Contreras said recently that she hopes to have the good news soon as to when the local preschool will be reopening. For more information, call director Veronica Contreras at (559) 563-2326.