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Early Childhood Education

A Year Later, Los Angeles Has Refunded 60% Of Child Care Providers Who Were Overcharged For Fire Permits

A woman in a beige shirt, with a white scarf and white hair holds a notice saying she failed to pay a fire permit.
San Fernando Valley child care provider Nancy Wyatt holds a copy of a payment notice she received from the City of Los Angeles.
(Daniella Segura
/
LAist)
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Topline:

The City of Los Angeles overcharged home-based child care providers hundreds of dollars for a permit eliminated by state law. As of mid-October, the L.A. Office of Finance reported refunding 60% of providers who overpaid.

The backstory: Los Angeles eliminated annual fire permit fees for licensed family child care providers in March 2021, but notices went out that fall anyway, threatening penalties if payments weren’t made by the end of the year. The city’s finance office said in an email that it sent a notice to the 267 providers who paid the $500 permit. Providers have to sign and return a form before their money is refunded.

Why it matters: Home-based child care providers in L.A. County often make below minimum wage, so losing $500 is a big deal.

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“Considering the shortage of childcare all across our state and in Los Angeles, I think it's just really incumbent on the city to do everything it can to support providers and one way they can do that is by refunding, right before the holidays, $501,” said Child Care Law Center Executive Director Kim Kruckel.

She said providers elsewhere in the state have called the Center because their cities continue to bill them for fees that are prohibited by law.

“If they don't enact the ordinance, if they don't update their website, and if they don't update their systems, they're still charging people,” Kruckel said.

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research issued a factsheet in September reminding local governments not to charge family child care homes for business licenses and other fees.

How to get a refund: Licensed L.A. family child care providers operating in residential areas no longer need to pay for an annual fire permit as of March 18, 2021. Bills are sometimes labeled as a “Fire Permit Renewal” or a charge for an F522 Fire Permit. Providers who believe they may have overpaid can contact the Office of Finance at finance.customerservice@lacity.org or by calling 844-663-4411. Providers have one year from the date they paid to ask for a refund. They will need to complete and return a “claim for refund application."

Go deeper: Struggling Home-Based Child Care Providers In LA Are Still Waiting On Refunds For A Bill The City Never Should Have Sent