New York City

NYC: Pre-K health violations have been cleared up

School starts Sept. 9

August 17, 2015 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said that pre-K classrooms are clean and safe.  Photo courtesy of the NYC Department of Education
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New York City officials assured parents on Thursday that community-based pre-K classrooms are healthy and safe.

With three weeks until the start of a greatly expanded Universal pre-K program, all “priority health violations” have been addressed, the city said in a statement. The first day of school is September 9.

In May, a Daily News investigation found community-based groups that run pre-K centers had been hit with 39,000 violations over the past six years. The problems included blocked fire exits, unsafe playgrounds and vermin infestation. Of these, 16 organizations had violations in the most critical categories; five of these were in Brooklyn.

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This year’s budget provided an additional $1.5 million to the Health Department to boost its early education and childcare quality control team by 26 inspectors, to a total of 69 staff, the city said on Thursday.

In addition, the Fire Department, the Department of Design and Construction and the Department of Buildings have increased the number of staff members dedicated to pre-K. The Department of Education (DOE) has also increased its staff at the Division of Early Childhood Education.

DOE said it conducts walk-throughs of all pre-K sites in the lead up to the first day of school, and health and safety concerns will be immediately referred to a sister agency for follow-up.

“The safety and security of our students is always our top priority and we’ve left no stone unturned in ensuring that every pre-K site is ready for the first day of school – both in its ability to give our four-year-olds the high-quality educational foundation they need to thrive in kindergarten and beyond, and in meeting our high safety and health standards,” Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said in a statement.

Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery said, “We have had inspectors and support staff on the ground all summer long to ensure every program meets the very highest standards, and we do not allow any program to open its doors unless we are convinced it is ready for children.”

This year children will receive pre-K instruction at 1,150 NYC Early Education Centers and 700 public schools.

Parents can find pre-K in their neighborhoods and search inspection records at the Child Care Connect web site

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