Senate report reveals ‘hidden dangers’ in day care centers
Savino, Klein call for letter grading system
Children in day care centers are learning their ABCs, but letters would also come in handy for parents trying to decide if a facility is safe for their child, according to members of the state Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), who are calling for new rules to require places that take care of youngsters to post letter grades similar to those posted at restaurants following health inspections.
State Sen. Diane Savino (D-Coney Island-Bensonhurst-Staten Island) is a member of the conference. Savino and state Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) said all day care centers in New York City should be required to post letter grades to better inform parents of the conditions in the facilities.
The IDC released a report on Thursday called “The Hidden Dangers of Day Care” containing shocking information on the conditions in many of the city’s day care centers.
Using information culled from inspection reports from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOH), the IDC found that many day care centers where working parents entrust their children had high numbers of violations, including failure to conduct background checks on employees, lack of emergency exits, failure to provide adequate hand-washing stations and other serious lapses.
The report found that 18,102 violations were issued to 2,271 day care centers between 2013 and 2015. Since 2013, day care centers have racked up an average of nearly eight violations per provider, according to the IDC’s investigation.
The worst offenders were in Brooklyn, where day care providers averaged 11 violations each, and a total of 9,565 violations in just two-and-a-half years, the IDC found.
Several day care centers had more than 60 violations.
“It’s shocking. It’s depressing. It’s eye-opening. It’s all of those things,” Savino told the Brooklyn Eagle on Friday.
Savino said society expects parents to make wise decisions when it comes to their children, “but we don’t give them the tools they need to make an informed decision about which day care center to take care of their children.”
The results of health inspections are provided on the DOH website, but Savino said navigating the site is tricky and time-consuming for busy working parents. Most often, parents will ask their friends and neighbors for day care center recommendations, she said.
“And if they ask a day care center, what is the day care center going to do, admit they have violations? They’ll just lie,” Savino said.
Requiring day care centers to post letters like A, B or C, like restaurants are mandated to do, would provide parents with an easy access to vital information they need to make an informed decision on whether a place is safe for their kids, Savino said.
And there’s another advantage, according Savino. “It forces people to abide by the law,” she said, adding that day care center providers would be more eager to remedy the violations if they knew their grades would be posted in their front windows.
“A parent cannot always tell by glancing at the colorful class projects at a day care center that there are hidden dangers lurking inside,” Klein said in a statement. “They trust that providers are qualified and tell the truth about their records. But our report reveals that many day cares across this city rack up chronic violations and some even lie when asked about their records. We want parents to know that the places where they leave their children all day are safe, clean and licensed. Letter-grading on restaurants communicates to the public in a very clear manner the track record of an eatery. We wouldn’t eat at a restaurant with a poor letter grade, would we leave a child in a place with a bad grade? It’ll undoubtedly lead to day care facilities cleaning up their acts,”
The report is available on Klein’s website, https://www.nysenate.gov/sites/default/files/hidden_dangers_of_day_care_report.pdf.
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