Day-care center operators approached the Orem City Council on Tuesday night with concerns about limitations on their services and how the city could help find solutions.
About a dozen people who either operate child-care centers in the city or send children to the centers came to vent frustrations and help the council form a recommendation to be sent to the city's Planning Commission for study.Utahna Mitchell, of the Utah Department of Social Services, works with day-care issues in the northern part of Utah County.
"We feel that there is a real need for good day-care services," Mitchell said. "We will work with the city in any way possible to create those services."
Day-care centers in Orem are licensed under the
Home Occupation Ordinance, and providers believe some regulations need to be altered to accommodate the centers.
Ed Stout, Orem's director of developmental services, said three specific issues need to be addressed in the event that the Home Occupation Ordinance is changed.
The first is density. "How many day-care centers are appropriate in a neighborhood?" Stout asked. This could become a real concern to people who don't want "businesses" in a residential area.The second is outside activity. The ordinance says a business may not operate outside the home, and the providers want to let children play outside.
Nancy Nordlund, an Orem day-care provider, said, "The kids are already out there, so a change in the ordinance is in order."
The last is a stipulation that any employees must be members of the family that lives in the home.
The providers said they believe an extra employee should not have to be related, especially if the employee is only used a few hours a day.
Council member Joyce Johnson said, "I've felt for a long time that this is an ordinance we should look at."
She said many day-care centers have an extra employee who is not a member of the immediate family, but the city doesn't enforce the rule.
City Attorney Paul Johnson said the council could make special regulations defining day-care centers as a different kind of home occupation.
Nordlund said day-care providers who are licensed submit themselves to rigorous controls, and although "some things are hard to do, it is all for the benefit of the kids."
Other issues include increased traffic in residential areas, day care for parents who work nights (the present ordinance limits day care to 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.), and how to handle unlicensed providers.
Mayor S. Blaine Willes encouraged the group to present its case to the Planning Commission, which would take that and the City Council's recommendation, and return it to the council for a possible change in the ordinance.
In Orem it is illegal for people running day-care centers in their homes to:
-Let children play outside.
-Employ a non-family member to help take care of the children.
-Operate before 7:30 a.m. or after 6 p.m.