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Boise reduces licensure time for in-home childcare from 96 days to 25

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

How Boise employed low- and no-cost changes to increase childcare access


Today's post comes from guest writer Samantha Beck from the Boise Mayor's Office.

Mirroring nationwide trends, Boise faces a shortage of childcare facilities, which are critical to keeping the local economy strong. The City of Boise ensures safe and high-quality childcare through licensing both in-home and commercial childcare facilities at the local level. In-home facilities offer affordable neighborhood childcare options for working families in Boise. These facilities are very small businesses whose owners don’t have a lot of experience with licensing processes.


The city frequently heard feedback from residents that it was difficult to obtain and annually renew their childcare facility licenses. Some providers even reported that the city process jeopardized their ability to continue to run their facility, because it was so difficult to renew their licenses on time.


At the city, we knew we needed to make the licensing process for in-home childcare providers more accessible, providing more clarity and helping providers complete requirements in a timely manner. We enlisted expertise from PPI, who helped us form a team of city staff who work daily with childcare providers.

Boise's childcare licensing process improvement team

Ryan and Tiffany from PPI held a two-day workshop with our team members where they led staff through creating a detailed process map of the in-home childcare facility licensing process from start to finish. Tiffany and Ryan helped staff to identify several barriers and bottlenecks in the licensing process.


Generally, for an in-home facility serving 7-12 children, and considering both state and local

requirements, a prospective provider spent about 94 days getting their license. We also found that, although our City Clerk website lists the $103 facility license fee, all of the other related fees can easily total over $700 -- a big deal for small providers.


PPI asked the right questions to help staff identify opportunities to improve the existing process. Here's some of the barriers that we found and how we addressed them:


We found: The requirements to get a license are unclear—providers don’t know where to start.

Solution: The city will provide a consolidated list of requirements, streamline the application process, and translate important resources into Spanish and Swahili.


We found: Applicants wanting to provide childcare for 7-12 children (group childcare home) must apply to two separate city departments, a time-consuming process.

Solution: We hope to consolidate all requirements into a single application that can be submitted to the City Clerk’s office, pending code change.


We found: Fees from both state and local entities are staggered throughout the process.

Solution: We reduced City fees for Group Child Care Home Facility applications by $120 and pending code change hope to reduce them by another $110, totaling a $230 reduction.

Inspectors will personally hand this reminder to providers each year before their renewal.

We found: Providers must be inspected by both City of Boise and Central District Health before opening their facility, but these two inspections are largely duplicative.

Solution: Consolidate Central District Health and city inspections, if possible, pending city code


We found: Applicants must complete several steps, like central registry checks, a background check, and two inspections, one after the other, and each step has significant processing time.

Solution: Allow all these steps to take place at the same time. For example, while an applicant is waiting for their central registry check to come back from the State, they can also get a city background check done and have a Central District Health inspector come to their home. This will reduce overall wait times because all the processing can be done concurrently.

We found: It’s difficult for existing facilities to know what requirements they need to meet for renewal, and requirements change year-to-year.

Solution: Clarified instructions on the city website and on renewal notifications, including a new postcard with requirements that will be handed out at inspections. Additionally, we are making back-end changes that will make it easier for staff to tell facilities what requirements they must meet for renewal each year.

Metric

(facilities with 7-12 kids)

Current

Future

Time to license

94 days

25 days

Applicant time spent

21 hours

8 hours

Staff time spent

10 hours

2 hours

Applicant fees

$702

$471

As a result of the process innovations that Boise undertook in partnership with PPI, we have already reduced city fees for childcare providers by $120. Boise has started offering fingerprinting after 5 p.m. on certain days so that providers don’t have to leave their home during working hours to get fingerprints taken for a background check. We have also created clearer, more user-centered written reminders to help providers renew their licenses in less time. Over the next few months, our team is working to bring forward proposals for policies that need city council approval. These include lowering fees another $110 and consolidating duplicative inspections that take place prior to a license being issued.



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