All of the reviews on the BPN website were submitted by parents who subscribe to the Berkeley Parents Network. Most were posted in response to a question from another parent.
Only parent subscribers can post reviews. Note that BPN also accepts subscriptions from community members but these subscribers cannot post reviews. All reviews must be based on a parent's first-hand experience with the school, camp or business being reviewed. We do not accept reviews from parents whose children have not attended the school, or from the business owner, or from anyone who has worked at the school or business. Multiple reviews of the same school or business from the same BPN subscriber are also not accepted.
Most reviews on BPN are submitted in response to a question from another parent -- see Parent Q&A for current questions. We also accept unsolicited reviews for schools, camps, and certain other child-related businesses. See the next section.
All posts are reviewed by a BPN moderator before publication, and must meet BPN policies for advice and reviews.
Post a review of a daycare, preschool, school, camp, class, or other child-related business
Post your review directly to their profile page. You will see a "Parent Reviews" section on their page if you are logged in as a parent subscriber. Once approved, your review will remain on the website permanently and can be viewed by anyone who visits the BPN website. You can find a school's profile page using "Search BPN" at the top of any page on the website. Or look it up in one of the databases in the main menu, for example under "Schools" click "Search K-12 Schools." If we don't have a profile page for the school, camp, class or licensed childcare facility that you want to review, please contact us and we'll make one.
Post a review in response to a question from another parent
Under "Listings" in the main menu, click on "Parent Q&A." This is a list of all questions that are currently open for response. If you receive the weekly Parent Q&A newsletter, you can also click on the "Respond" link under a question.
Post a review of a nanny or babysitter
Click "Post a Message" and choose Post Type "Parents recommending a sitter or nanny". Once approved, your review will remain published for 30 days and can be viewed by BPN subscribers only.
BPN does not remove reviews once published on the website except in certain specific situations, such as reviews that contain inaccurate information. See Removing Reviews from the Website for details.
Please contact us to create a profile page for a Bay Area school, daycare, childcare center, camp, or class that is not already on the BPN website. We'll need basic information such as its name, city, ages, grades. For daycares and preschools, we also need the site license number.
BPN does not create profile pages for other types of businesses unless they have purchased a community subscription. See Community Subscribers for more information.
Please be aware that BPN does not have the resources to confirm contact information about a business that is included in a parent's review. We are not able to update reviews on our website that contain out-of-date information. However, we do try to update reviews that are resulting in wrong-number phone calls or reviews for businesses that do not want calls from people who find them on the BPN website. If we have an incorrect phone number, or you are no longer in business, or you don't want your business recommended on the BPN website, please contact us and give us the URL (webpage address) that your review appears on. For more information, see our policies about Removing Reviews and Negative Reviews.
From 1996 to 2016, reviews and advice from the newsletters had to be archived by hand to the BPN website by volunteers. Only a small percentage of the thousands of topics from the newsletters have been archived, with a priority on updating school and childcare recommendations. This manual archiving came to a halt in late 2014 as we turned our attention to developing the new website, which was completed in 2016. We are continuing to archive pre-2016 advice and reviews but it's a slow process. Parents can now post questions, advice, and reviews directly to the website. New Q&A is displayed at the top of the relevant page in BPN's Advice & Reviews Archive.
1. Moderation of Reviews
All posts are reviewed by a BPN moderator before they are published on our website to make sure they meet BPN policies. Moderators and administrators read hundreds of postings a week, and all have years of experience reviewing posts on BPN, so we can usually detect patterns that indicate questionable postings. Moderators have access to names and email addresses even on anonymous postings, and can review past postings from the same subscriber if there is a question about multiple reviews or a business conflict. See Fraudulent and Deceptive Reviews for information about how BPN handles questionable postings.
2. Only BPN parent subscribers can post reviews.
Any parent who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area can subscribe to BPN and post a review of their child's childcare, preschool, school, class, or other child-related business. Parents or their child must have first-hand experience, not just have visited. Reviews are archived permanently to the website and are available to the public except for private individuals such as nannies and teen babysitters. In that case, reviews remain active on the site for 30 days and can only be viewed by BPN subscribers.
Schools, preschools, and other child-related businesses can pay a yearly fee to be Community Subscribers which allows them to post announcements about their programs and services, but they cannot post or edit reviews.
3. "Unsolicited" reviews.
BPN accepts unsolicited reviews for daycares, schools, and other businesses that are eligible to subscribe as a Community Subscriber. All other BPN reviews (for professional services, local businesses, etc.) must be posted in response to a recent request in the Parent Q&A newsletters.
Daycare reviews: Most reviews of home-based daycares on the BPN website were unsolicited, because prior to 2016 there was not a way for parents to post a question about a daycare.
Preschools and school reviews: Most of these reviews were posted in response to a question. An unsolicited review for a preschool or school may represent a parent's spur-of-the-moment expression of satisfaction in their child's daycare or school, or the review may have been prompted by a request from the school.
Multiple unsolicited reviews for the same school or preschool within just a few months is uncommon on BPN. One or two unsolicited reviews each year is typical for most schools and daycares on BPN. More than that may signal that the school has put out a notice to parents to post reviews to BPN, and a pattern of multiple unsolicited reviews over several years may signal that the school has a history of compensating parents for posting positive reviews. A burst of unsolicited reviews could also indicate that the school has frequent openings, or is having trouble keeping enrollment up, and has asked parents to post reviews to generate more interest in the school.
4. Negative reviews.
BPN accepts negative reviews as long as they are posted in response to a question, amd conform to BPN's Negative Review Policy. We do NOT accept unsolicited negative reviews, or negative reviews for individuals who do not meet BPN's definition of a business, such as a teacher, a nanny, or a babysitter.
Therefore when you are reading reviews on the BPN website that were unsolicited, keep in mind that you will usually see only positive reviews. Take care to also review any licensing violations and complaints for the daycare you are researching; see About License Violations for how to look up a daycare and what to pay attention to.
BPN does NOT accept negative reviews of individuals who do not meet BPN's definition of a business. This includes teachers, nannies, and babysitters. Nannies are not required to be licensed, but they can register with the state-operated Trustline database. Always check references before hiring a nanny.
5. Daycare & Preschool Reviews.
BPN only accepts reviews for daycares and preschools that are licensed by the State of California. However, you should be aware that there are a few licensed preschools and daycares that have numerous positive reviews on BPN despite a significant number of license violations and complaints. Therefore, when you are researching childcare on BPN it is very important to review citations and complaints on the State's website. The facility's license number is displayed at the top of the page for each daycare or preschool on the BPN website. Click on the license number to go to the State of California's license database, where you can view citations, inspections, and complaints. Beginning April 2015, full inspection reports are also available. Read About License Violations for BPN's suggestions about what to look for in the State's licensing database.
6. Elementary School Reviews.
Positive reviews from parents of kindergarteners vs. older kids. Parents who are new to the school may be more biased toward presenting their child's school in a positive light. They may be blissfully unaware of longstanding problems such as administrative dysfunction or teacher turnover, and they may have little experience with practices at other schools. The reviews that have the highest value are those from parents who have been at the school for many years, or whose children have attended other schools.
Some schools offer discounts or credits to parents for posting a positive review to BPN. This is against BPN's policy on Compensated Reviews and we do make an effort to monitor for this, but it is difficult to enforce. Occasionally we hear from parents about schools that offer credit toward participation obligations for posting to BPN, or even discounts on tuition in exchange for favorable reviews. Here are some indications that a school might be compensating parents for posting flattering reviews: a name is signed to the review (rather than a more anonymous sign-off), or there are multiple unsolicited reviews within a short span of time, or there are numerous glowing reviews despite a significant number of complaints and/or license violations (click "view" next to the license # to see citations and complaints on the State's website.)