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YMCA, Agency Reach Day-Care Accord

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Averting a shutdown only days away, the Orange County YMCA has reached an agreement with a state regulatory agency that will allow two new after-school care programs to remain open in Aliso Viejo and Santa Ana.

In announcing the out-of-court agreement Wednesday, YMCA officials said they will halt a lawsuit against the state Department of Social Services that had sought to prevent the agency from closing the state-funded programs, which serve about 120 elementary school students.

The lawsuit, filed earlier this month, stemmed from a lengthy dispute between the YMCA, the county’s largest provider of after-school programs for elementary school students, and the department over safety concerns.

YMCA officials contended that the programs were being required to meet overzealous and arbitrary regulations and that certain department inspectors were exaggerating problems.

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Department officials said they had found unsafe playgrounds and other concerns at several sites.

Under the agreement, the department will issue provisional licenses to the programs at Oak Grove Elementary School in Aliso Viejo and Muir Fundamental School in Santa Ana while regulatory officials continue routine inspections of the facilities and staff.

Arthur Wannlund, president of the YMCA of Orange County, said that he hopes permanent licenses will be granted within the next six months.

Negotiations are also set for licenses at four other YMCA-run programs facing closure at Castille, Hidden Hills, Harold Ambuehl and Viejo elementary schools in South County.

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Arthur Carter, the Department of Social Services’ program manager for the Orange County office of community licensing, said that he is satisfied progress is being made with the agreement.

The two programs were operating under a state-authorized 12-week exemption to licensing requirements, pending application approval. The exemption was set to expire today.


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