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Staff Members Complained : Day-Care License Issued for Escondido Boys’ Club

Times Staff Writer

Bringing a long-simmering controversy to an end, state officials have agreed to re-license two day-care programs offered by the Boys’ and Girls’ Club of Escondido after being promised that Executive Director Craig Timmons and his chief assistant, Jane Goldschmidt, would not oversee those programs.

With the three-year license, the club now can provide so-called developmental day care for 57 youngsters between the ages of 5 and 14 in a program subsidized by the state Department of Education, and for as many as 41 other youngsters age 5 and 6 in a Juniors Club.

The state ordered the club to get a day-care license for those two groups because it provides formal supervision.

Most of the club’s activities are for children age 7 and older, who are free to come and go and for whom there is no extraordinary supervision or program--and for whom no day-care license is required. Timmons and Goldschmidt will continue to direct those activities, the board of directors said.

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The Boys’ and Girls’ Club came under state licensing scrutiny last year after complaints from some staff members that upwards of 250 youngsters were participating in club activities on any given afternoon even though, at the time, the club was licensed as a day-care center for only 154 youngsters.

Club executives maintained that there was no wrongdoing because most of the children were not receiving formal day-care supervision. The issue was muddied because of confusion over whether the club was a “drop-in” recreational center where youngsters were free to come and go at will. The conflict heightened when club officials acknowledged that a busload of youngsters were whisked from the club one day last June in order to escape a head count during a surprise visit by state licensing officials.

In the wake of that event and other complaints about the level of staff supervision, Tom Hersant, who heads the community care licensing office in San Diego for the state Department of Social Services, said he was reluctant to license the club’s day programs with Timmons and Goldschmidt in charge. Tuesday night, after a four-hour meeting, the board of directors agreed to remove Timmons and Goldschmidt from any involvement with the licensed day-care programs.

“There was a lot of concern by the state about Craig and Jane, based on past complaints, and the board decided that, in the best interest of the club, its parents, children and the community, we’d accept the recommendation of Mr. Hersant,” said Jim Connole, board president.

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The board will hire someone else to officially head the two day-care programs, Connole said.

“The action was taken to assure that the club could continue to provide a very much needed service in this community. The board’s No. 1 priority was seeing that a license is issued,” Connole said.

He refused to comment whether the board’s vote showed a lack of confidence in Timmons’ leadership.

For his part, Timmons said Thursday he was not insulted by the board’s decision. “We have not reorganized the club for some time,” he said. “We have grown rapidly in the last four years, and this path was on our long-range plan. I view this as an opportunity to enhance our programs.

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“I don’t view this as an affront to me, but as an opportunity to better serve the children of our community.”


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