'Really scary': Parents learn Oakland day care is shut down after multiple violations

Parents were surprised to learn their child's day care was run by someone with a criminal record after GG’s Treehouse, a home day care in Oakland, was suddenly shut down last week by the California Department of Social Services.

On October 10, the CDSS served the licensee with a Temporary Suspension Order, temporarily suspending the facility’s license pending a hearing in the matter. In addition, the CDSS served the licensee with an Accusation to Revoke the license. 

GG’s Treehouse received 12 citations across five inspection visits since it opened in January.

The operating license was under Mia Allen, but parents said her mother, Nicole Bronson Bell, was running the day care on a daily basis, even though the state denied Bell clearance because of her criminal history.

Alejandra Vargas-Johnson said she enrolled her five-month-old at GG’s Treehouse in June to start in August after looking into about 20 other places. She said good childcare was hard to find.

"I was happy I found something I could afford that was in my neighborhood," she told KTVU.

Vargas-Johnson looked up the license as soon as she paid the first month and signed up for email notifications for any changes to the license. She received the notification when CDSS sent inspectors to the facility in June after they received a complaint.

The complaint said there were children in an "off-limits" location, identified in a report as the downstairs two-bedroom unit that had not been approved as a childcare area by the state.

Allen received the license in January 2023 under the conditions that the operations occur in approved areas of the home and that every employee is cleared with a background check and fingerprinting. 

Vargas-Johnson said GG's Treehouse employees failed to change her daughter’s diaper on two occasions, and it raised questions about the quality of the childcare. When she found sores on her daughter’s toes in Septembe, she decided to pull her child out and find a new day care.

The facility was inspected again on September 25 and October 5, and inspectors found 19 children on the property, 11 of whom were infants. The facility has a capacity for eight total children.

Additionally, Allen’s mother, Nicole Bronson Bell, who had previously been denied clearance due to her criminal record, was found caring for the children at least twice after state inspectors warned she couldn’t be present during operating hours.


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Vargas-Johnson said she doesn’t recognize the pictures on the day care’s website as the same facility in the Dimond neighborhood, but the inspectors also found infants and pre-school aged kids in the downstairs off-limits area of the home.

"I very strongly suspected they had more babies than they were supposed to, but I imagined they had maybe one or two more," said Vargas-Johnson, who has stayed up to date with the violations despite removing her child from GG’s Treehouse.

Other parents who wish to remain anonymous told KTVU they never received notification of any inspections or violations. 

Parents said they did not find out about the issues until social services called parents at home to alert them that they were temporarily suspending the day care and working to permanently revoke Allen’s license.

KTVU tried to speak with Allen, but she wasn’t available for an interview before deadline, but she did respond via text. 

"Just because my mother has a criminal background, it should not preclude her from having a second chance to contribute to the community and make a positive impact," Allen texted KTVU reporter Crystal Bailey.

Vargas-Johnson said she never even met Allen in person. Other parents confirm Bronson Bell was doing the primary caretaking at the facility. 

"Nicole was the one who gave us the tour," said Vargas-Johnson.

Inspectors also found other employees caring for the children who weren’t fingerprinted or cleared by the state.

"I never knew who was caring for my baby," said Vargas-Johnson, who said the employees changed regularly.

Other violations in the state’s report include failure to keep sleep logs for infants, allowing employees without CPR or first aid training to care for kids, and not maintaining records for employees and children.

Allen said the Black-owned business is being targeted and discriminated against. 

She told KTVU she and her mother hired a lawyer. 

Vargas-Johnson, however, is content with the state's actions. 

"I’m glad the inspection happened and the state is regulating as it should," she said.

Since the closure, parents told KTVU they have not received refunds for the month of October, costing between $1,500 and $1,800. The parents said Allen promised the refunds by the end of the month.

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CDSS said it is conducting an investigation into this matter and is unable to comment on ongoing investigations. 

Allen said her and her mother plan to fight the allegations in an upcoming hearing.

Vargas-Johnson encourages parents looking for childcare to find the licensing number for day care centers and sign up for email notifications when changes to the license occur.

You can look up license numbers through childcare resource websites like Bananas Bunch. CDSS has a database with all violations and complaints. Enter the license number or look up the day care by address to find information about a specific daycare.