The permitted number of children per in-home day care in Tooele City is now 16, double the eight previously permitted under code.
During its meeting Wednesday evening, the Tooele City Council approved the change, which would double the capacity for in-home day cares in the face of a shortage of licensed providers.
The changes allow in-home day cares to have one employee who doesn’t live in the home, which is currently prohibited. The change also allows day cares and preschools with seven or less children to avoid the conditional use permit process, only requiring a business license and staff approval.
In-home day cares with more than seven children are now required to receive a conditional use permit. A commercial, non-residential day care or preschool would be defined as any with 17 or more children. State law permits one day care provider to manage six to eight children.
Day cares with eight to 16 children are required to submit a traffic and parking plan and be located no closer than 300 feet to another licensed child care business. The total number of children permitted under the maximum of 16 would include the licensee’s and employee’s children if under their care during business hours. Older children who do not participate in the day care or preschool functions would not be counted toward the maximum.
The Tooele City Planning Commission would retain some oversight over day cares with eight to 16 children, as the conditional use permit process allows for mitigating impact.
The new ordinance also limits preschools to two sessions a day, with up to 16 children per session, according to Jim Bolser, the city’s community development director.
During a public hearing on the ordinance, Kat Martinez with the Utah Department of Health said the state supported any ordinance that aligns more closely with state laws.
“It makes it easier for us to help providers get through the process to understand the rules and regulations when they’re more consistent,” Martinez said. “We’re also experiencing, as was stated, a real lack of licensed child care across the state. It’s a major problem. So we’re in favor of expanding the ratio to make sure more children have the opportunity to be at a licensed child care, rather than being forced out into illegal child cares with less oversight and more dangerous conditions.”
The city’s planning commission forwarded a unanimous positive recommendation for the new ordinance at its Sept. 11 meeting.
At Wednesday’s meeting, the day care ordinance passed by a 4-0 vote on a motion from Councilman Brad Pratt, seconded by Councilwoman Melodi Gochis. Councilman Dave McCall was absent.