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The Real Deal: How safe is your daycare?
ALBANY – If you’re a working parent, chances are your child has to spend a lot of time at daycare but just how safe is the place you’ve been dropping them off at? CBS6 Investigative Reporter, Jennifer Lewke, dug through daycare inspection data to get you the Real Deal on how local providers stack up and what parents can do to be sure you’re choosing a good one.
Julia Mangold worked at a local daycare center for two years. She says she had no idea how often her employer was being cited for safety concerns. “I was very surprised to see that, some of them (the violations) are worded a little scarier than what the violation is but I was shocked that as an employee I didn't have to know about the violations and that it did not need to be passed onto the parents, that didn't seem right…. It was all very hush-hush, we were not supposed to discuss it with parents,” Mangold tells CBS6.
Most of the violations CBS6 found while searching local providers on the State Office of Children and Family Service’s website were for issues like too many kids in rooms with too few adults, failing to do fire drills, fire hazards and failing to cover electric outlets. These are violations that were cited after the provider had been given advance notice of a pending inspection. “We'd usually have extra staff on when the inspector was coming,” Mangold says.
The State Office of Children and Family Services says daycare and family care providers are inspected quarterly and often advance notice is given. “We want the provider to be ready for us when we arrive on the site as far as documentation goes and sometimes it's also important…that if the provider needs to spend a lot of time with us, they may need to also have additional staffing resources on site,” says Jim Hart, the Director of Regional Operations for the Division of Child Care Services at OCFS. Hart says at least one visit per year is normally unannounced and anytime they get a complaint from a parent or employee, they investigate by going directly to the center unannounced. “Part of the goal by doing quarterly…and more frequent and routine inspections is to hopefully prevent scenarios or situations from getting to the point where we have to shut a program down,” according to Hart who adds, “400 inspectors around the state visit more than 20,000 programs that serve 560,000 children…we’re on it.”
So, what should a parent do after you’ve got a good idea of your provider’s history? “I think everything depends on the family’s needs and their concerns…you want to go on your intuition but certainly speak with the licenser, speak with the director and have them inform you of the situation,” says Tricia Howland of the Capital Region Child Care Coordinating Council.
To search your child’s daycare click here: https://www.ocfs.state.ny.us/main/childcare/ccfs_template.asp
Child Care Complaint Line: 1-800-732-5207
State Central Register for Child Abuse/Maltreatment: 1-800-342-3720