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Morning Brief: Child Care Billing Mistakes, Repurposed Motels, And Night Owls

An educator in a purple sweater and a patterned facemask sits on a white carpet reading a storybook to two young children, both wearing facemasks, one in a blue polka dot dress and the other in a red sweater with bright pink pants.
For early educators there's not always a clear path to professional development— and the pay bump that can come with more qualifications.
(Brenda Cruz for LAist's Child Care, Unfiltered)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s April 7.

Child care providers have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19. 

Faced with on-and-off closures, losing clients due to families’ changing financial circumstances, and complying with sometimes costly safety mandates, many day cares and preschools that were already operating on thin margins have been pushed to the brink of financial catastrophe.

Now, some home-based child care providers in L.A. are facing yet another hurdle, reports my colleague Mariana Dale — in October, they were erroneously sent bills for fire permits, some for upwards of $500. Most who paid the bills are still waiting for refunds. 

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For context, a 2017 report found that family child care providers in L.A. County made an average of $11.73 an hour. That means a bill for $500 could be the difference between staying open and closing for good.

Diana Mangioglu, L.A.’s Office of Finance Director and City Treasurer, said that the bills were sent in error due in part to staffing shortages caused by pandemic-prompted cutbacks.

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“Something that could have taken us five minutes to correct, you know, is now taking us several days to perhaps implement,” she said.

Still, many child care providers can’t wait. The city is apparently only sending refunds to those who request them, and some providers have reported receiving failure-to-pay notices with additional fines. 

“Everyone deserves their money back,” said provider Estrella Mundy. “They can use that money for something else.”

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A., and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

Before You Go ... Rejoice, Night Owls

An arm draped in a sheet rests on a bed close to a pair of glasses.
(Photo by Matheus Vinicius on Unsplash)
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The pandemic prompted an accidental experiment into flexible, at-home working hours. And some initial research shows that night owls — those among us who are hard-wired to perform better in the later evening hours — might benefit the most from this shift.

Researchers in Italy found that many Italians whose circadian rhythms aren’t naturally fit for a 9-5 job thrived, and saw health improvements when they were free to toil away into the night. Stay up until midnight reading about it here.

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