A bill that would have ramped up the frequency of state inspections for preschools and child care programs died on Friday, stagnating in a committee.

That means that California can still leave those programs uninspected for as long as five years, as we explained last week. Licensing inspectors say that puts health and safety at risk. California regularly ranks at the bottom in national studies of preschool and child care oversight.

Backers argued the bill wouldn’t cost any more money because licensing inspectors would do shorter, annual inspections focused on the most frequent or worrisome violations, only launching a more detailed inspection if they detected a severe problem. The idea was born out of the Community Care Licensing Division itself, which has championed the changes and tested them on its own.

But a state legislative committee analysis still found that the increased inspections would cost “tens of millions of dollars.” Though no explanation was given at the committee on Friday, backers of the bill believe it was likely killed off by worries that it would cost the strapped state more money.

“It’s dead,” said Donita Stromgren, policy director for the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network. “We’ll have to regroup and figure out what the issues were that we’re not aware of. We thought we had addressed their concerns. … It’s a major surprise.”

The bill would have also increased the frequency of inspections for facilities that care for the elderly and foster children, which also fall under the Community Care Licensing Division.

In the meantime, I’m still digging into the impacts of infrequent inspections for preschools and child care programs. Do you have tips or information to share? Please let me know!

Please contact Emily Alpert directly at emily.alpert@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5665 and follow her on Twitter: twitter.com/emilyschoolsyou.

Emily Alpert was formerly the education reporter for Voice of San Diego.

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