Suspended Oakland day care illegally operates out of Airbnb

Parents are pulling their kids out of a daycare facility after they saw KTVU’s investigation into GG’s Treehouse in Oakland. The license that GG’s Treehouse was operating under was suspended for multiple violations involving the health and safety of children.

Despite getting its license suspended, parents told KTVU the day care is still running from an Airbnb, operated by Nicole Bell, who is not legally cleared to work with children due to her felony record.

The host of the Airbnb said Nicole Bell started her stay at the apartment in the Dimond District on Monday, which coincides with the day Brandon Romo was told to drop off his son at the Airbnb’s address.

"He’s not going back," said Brandon Romo, who said he was pulling his child out of GG’s Treehouse after seeing KTVU's news report on October 17.

The license for GG’s Treehouse was listed under 19-year-old Mia Allen, Nicole Bell’s daughter. The California Department of Social Services issued a Temporarily Suspension order on October 10, prohibiting the licensee from operating. 

Since then, parents told KTVU the day care was moved at Dimond Park for a week. 

"Nicole told us that while their license was suspended one of the ways they could operate in private care was to have outdoor learning, so they started going to Dimond Park," Romo said.

One parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said the heatwave that week was concerning, so she unenrolled her child after the day care was shut down.

"We really tried to press her for answers, and she tried to convince us that it was more of a fault of the analysts that showed up versus the fault of the day care or the administration," Romo said.

The state is working to permanently revoke Allen’s license after the day care was cited for allowing employees without background checks to care for kids, not maintaining records, and allowing Nicole Bronson Bell, Allen’s mother and a convicted felon, on the premises.

Bell was incarcerated after she was convicted of federal wire fraud and was denied exemption by the California Department of Social Services to care for children, despite her experience as a nursing assistant.

"This completely up-ended our day, trying to figure out what to do with him last minute, staying home from work," Romo said. 

His child was enrolled at GG’s Treehouse since it opened in January. "There were plenty of toys, tumbling mats, anything you could want for your child there," he said

Romo told KTVU this week that his son has been getting picked up and dropped off at GG’s Treehouse's new location, less than half-a-mile away from the original location on Castello Street.

The address matches an Airbnb listing. 

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"She had mentioned she was going to look into Airbnb’s and tell the Airbnb host it was a daycare," Romo said.

When Romo picked up his child on Tuesday, he said there were two childcare providers he didn’t recognize at the Airbnb that day. 

"It was by my count 10 children sitting on the carpet as I was picking up my son," he added.

The Airbnb host said she didn’t know about the day care, and that Bell denied running an illegal business from the rental.

"I need to get them out right away," said the host, who said she would contact Airbnb corporate.

When reporter Crystal Bailey knocked on the door at the Airbnb, Bell answered the door. She did not speak on camera, but she said the kids have been cared for at the park. 

However, Romo said the parents are usually alerted when the kids move to the park and was under the impression his son stayed at the Airbnb all day on Monday and Tuesday. He also showed KTVU photos of his child in the living room of the apartment as he received updates on the GG’s Treehouse app.

Bell continued to deny the allegations by the state. 

She sent KTVU images of the sleep logs for the infants and CPR certification for the childcare providers. Bell also sent a photo of an internal webpage showing 10 employees at GG’s Treehouse were cleared with a background check, except herself who was denied exception due to her criminal record. 

Bell said she showed these images to the inspectors on October 5, but they were not included in the report. Bell also said, although the day care was cited during multiple inspection visits, the staff at GG's Treehouse complied with every request of the inspectors to correct the issues.

Bell said GG’s Treehouse is appealing the suspension and will continue operating as a nanny share to avoid licensing regulations. 

CDSS continues to conduct an investigation into this matter and could not provide further comment into the Airbnb situation, but confirms the daycare is prohibited from operating without their license. CDSS reiterates any violation of this temporary suspension provides additional grounds to revoke the license.

If you are a parent who wants to look up the license for any childcare facility in the state, search the CDSS database.