Traverse City’s Day Care Dilemma

They say good help is hard to find. But what do you do when the people in charge make it hard to find good help?

I’m talking about daycare in Traverse City.

Despite state laws that designate daycare as a residential use, Traverse City laws restrict daycare facilities to one for every 1,500 feet in the city. In other words, they don’t want “too many” daycares in operation in the city. If your neighbor beats you to the punch, find a new profession.

That means, there are just 19 licensed daycare facilities within the city limits. 12 of those are family care homes with a six child limit. The other 7 homes are group homes that can take up to 12 children. (7 X 12) + (12 X 6) = 156 children. This should be an SAT question.

156 for all of Traverse City is not enough.

If you’re not one of the lucky parents of the 156, you’re out of luck. Traverse City Commissioners think it’s better for your neighbors not to have to be bogged down by “too many” daycares than it is for you to be able to find care for your children and go back to work. And what if you’re a single parent that has to work? Traverse City Commissioners don’t so much care. Then there’s the whole – your neighbor can run a daycare and you can’t just because they beat you to the one-per-1500-feet rule thinggy. That doesn’t seem fair.

In other words, good luck finding daycare or making a living running one in Traverse City. And the Traverse City Commission doesn’t care. Here’s how you can send them an email.

Restrictive zoning rules aren’t the only thing preventing hardworking parents from finding licensed daycare in Traverse City. Daycare owners report that local daycare licensing administrators often don’t understand the rules themselves. They say license representatives interpret the technical assistance rules in whatever way they think it should be done on any given day instead of what the rules call for. Then, when care providers inevitably can’t hit the moving target, licensors gleefully jump on perceived violations in an attempt to take licenses away, equal protection under the law be damned.

And this.

One of the problems with making regulations unduly burdensome is that people often just take their activities underground.

Props to the Record Eagle for shining a light on this important problem.

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