ARLINGTON, VA-- Parents should know whether the child care settings they choose for their children will be safe.
A Child Care Aware® of America research paper, “Effective Inspection Policies Promote Children’s Safety and Healthy Development in Child Care,” released today, found that 20 states (including the District of Columbia) conduct inspections of child care centers once a year or less frequently. California inspects child care centers once every five years. Montana inspects family child care homes once every five years. Michigan requires inspections of family child care homes once every 10 years. Eight states license or regulate family child care homes without inspecting the homes for safety first (Iowa, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia).
“Parents expect their children to be safe in child care,” said Ollie M. Smith, Interim Executive Director of Child Care Aware® of America. “Parents logically assume that if they choose a licensed program, there are minimum health and safety requirements in place and that inspections occur to ensure children are safe.”
The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), the federal law that allocates funds to states for child care and sets the framework for state child care laws, does not require any inspections. As a result, state inspection policies vary greatly. Research shows that regular, unannounced inspections promote child safety and accountability for taxpayer dollars. Programs that are inspected more frequently are more likely to adhere to health and safety requirements.
“Inspections can save lives,” said Smith. “The reality is that lax state inspection policies have led to tragedy, which is just heartbreaking.”
“In some states, inspections are merely a checklist. In other states, there is no follow-up to verify compliance,” said Smith. “Other states conduct inspections, cite violations, re-inspect, but when violations persist, states fail to suspend or close the programs or prohibit government funds from being used in the programs. That’s just not right,” Smith said.
Child Care Aware® of America recommends that all licensed child care programs have regular unannounced inspections – at least once a year and preferably more often. Additional recommendations include: requiring states to post child care inspection reports on line, requiring states to differentiate among the seriousness of violations so that more attention can be paid to settings that are potentially dangerous for children, and requiring states to share information with Child Care Resource and Referral agencies to prevent parents from being referred to programs where a license has been suspended or the program has been closed.
“Ineffective monitoring practices put children at risk,” said Smith. “It is time to put children’s safety first.”
Child Care Aware® of America (formerly NACCRRA, the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies), is our nation's leading voice for child care. We work with more than 600 state and local Child Care Resource and Referral agencies to ensure that all families have access to quality, affordable child care. To achieve our mission, we lead projects that increase the quality and availability of child care professionals, undertake research, and advocate child care policies that positively impact the lives of children and families. To learn more about Child Care Aware® of America and how you can join us in ensuring access to quality child care for all families, visit us at www.naccrra.org.