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Child-Care Law Approved in San Francisco

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Mayor Dianne Feinstein of San Francisco signed an ordinance last month that requires many of the city's office developers either to provide child-care facilities in their new or renovated buildings or to pay into a citywide child-care fund.

Abby J. Cohen, managing attorney for the Child Care Law Center, a nonprofit legal-services organization for child-care providers, said the ordinance applies only to development outside the downtown area and only to office space of 50,000 square feet or more.

The ordinance, which will go into effect this month, gives developers the option of paying $1 a square foot to a city-administered child-care fund or providing a licensable child-care facility in the building, Ms. Cohen said.

Cambridge, Mass., is the only other community to have passed similar legislation, according to child-care experts.

"I believe this is a basic solution to getting people to work and to stay off welfare, particularly where there is just a mother and children involved," Mayor Feinstein said after signing the ordinance. "More and more, the need for child care in a city like ours is demonstrated."

Ms. Cohen said the new program is an important step in getting "child care seen as an essential community service."

She said she expects most developers to find it "economically in their interest" to opt for the payment approach, rather than make valuable office space available, rent-free, for child care. The fund created by such payments, said Ms. Cohen, will finance child-care facilities citywide and help officials plan for "long-term child-care needs."

The city planning commission and board of supervisors are considering a similar child-care measure affecting downtown developers, she said.--br

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