Oct 26, 2012 8:15 PM by Kean Bauman
TUCSON - When you run a daycare center, your operating license is gold. You need to keep it current so parents know, you're worthy of caring for their kids.
In 2009 the state radically spiked its licensing fees which run on a three year cycle. One daycare provider in Tucson has paid most of the fees for the next three years but her license remains expired creating a number of hurdles.
Sebastian is two. He started Little Angels Daycare a year ago. Located on the south west side, it's convenient for his mom.
"It's close to where I go to school. It's close to where my mother works. So if something were to happen to him or emergency, I can get to him," says Micaela Rivera
Doralina Martinez owns Little Angels and called Kristi's Kids. She says in 2006 her licensing fee was $150 for 3 years. In 2009 the fee shot up to $4000.
"The impact on the classroom with our paint brushes, glue, tempera paint, construction paper...and every daycare operator out there knows what I'm talking about," says Martinez.
Kristi's kids traveled to Phoenix for answers.
"That was when the department had to make licensing services self funding," says Cara Christ, Asst. Director of Licensing Services at the Arizona Department of Health.
She says those fees were steady for decades until the 2009 state budget forced a hike. Christ adds there are programs in place to assist providers with the fees such as Empower Pack.
Martinez benefitted from Empower Pack and is almost paid up. Her license expired last month while she makes payments for the remainder.
Without a currently dated certificate, it is causing problems with contractors.
"The contracts with the tribes also require the new copy of the license with the new expiration date," explains Martinez.
The Department of Health tells Kristi's Kid they contacted the tribes to say Little Angels is in compliance and her application is in process and a new certificate will be sent when fees are paid in full.
Martinez says her insurance provider needs a current license also. And recently a prospective new client made a visit.
"But one of the things that the parent did notice was my license on the wall with the expiration, the date," recalls Martinez.
Since our investigation started, Martinez say the state provided additional documents to submit to the tribes. She tells us she's on pins and needles waiting to hear if that will cut through the red tape.