Should day care center violations be posted like restaurant violations?

UPDATE: Reporter Tim Eberly sent me a note answering my question below. One of the sources in the story said you could see reports but I wanted more information for us. So here is more info on where to find those reports and what they mean vs what the AJC is reporting.

From Tim Eberly: The state agency that oversees day-care programs, the Department of Early Care and Learning, posts reports for all inspections at each day-care for the past 18 months. If you want to pass along the link on your blog, here it is: http://decal.ga.gov/. While they’re certainly helpful, those inspection reports include a minimal amount of information about violations committed. The annual scores that we wrote about on Sunday take ALL of those visits and violations into account in a given year and give child-care programs a compliance score. One could find it valuable because it puts all those individual inspections and violations into context. It helps parents see the bigger picture.

Here is the start of the original story:

An AJC special investigation has found that nearly 2,500 day care programs in Georgia have failed to meet the state’s standards for health and safety at least once in the last four years.

From the AJC’s report:

“An AJC analysis of state day care ratings that have never been made public also found that 220 day cares received failing scores for at least two years in a row — and at least 200 of them are still open. One of the worst offenders racked up 191 violations, including failure to give children enough food and refusing to permit state inspectors to speak to children during an investigation. That center is still open. “

“Since 2007, the state Department of Early Care and Learning — known as DECAL — has quietly kept score on day care programs across the state, giving them annual “compliance” scores based on how many violations they received. While the state says it began sharing the scores with day care providers three years ago, it’s unclear whether all 6,557 providers know about the system even now. “

“State officials defended the decision to keep the scores from the public, saying they were for internal purposes only and helped DECAL determine which day cares need more attention. But the AJC’s analysis of the data, obtained through an Open Records Act request, revealed hundreds of day cares that have repeatedly fallen short…”

“When asked why the compliance scores haven’t been made public, Cagle said: ‘Because that information was never intended for that purpose. That information was intended for the purpose of internal monitoring only.’ ”

Click here to search for your day care center.

It absolutely doesn’t surprise me that so many day care centers are violating safety and health standards but what IS surprising is that the state is documenting those violations but NOT sharing it with parents.

Shouldn’t parents be given the maximum amount of information the state can provide so they can make the best possible choice about the care of their children?

It doesn’t make sense to me that you can walk into any McDonald’s or Outback Steakhouse and know how that restaurant did on its last inspection and specifically where it failed to meet standards for cleanliness. However, despite the state having similar information about day care centers, the information is not readily available to parents.

What better way to get day care centers to literally “clean up” their acts than to have their violations posted just like a restaurant. Then parents know whether to be weary and what to look for. Also wouldn’t that lead to the free market economy doing what it does best – parents would withdraw their children from the failing centers and those centers would close.

The story says that one center had 191 violations over a period of years and continued to stay open. If there were 191 violations listed and hanging in the lobby to the child care center, you better believe parents would not be using it.

Two other points to note from the story:

At one point the story says: “However, local child care advocate Pat Willis said she didn’t object to DECAL not giving the public access to that information, largely because parents can view individual inspection reports online.”

I think we need more information on this: Where is this information available and why don’t parents know about it? (I will send a note to our reporter on this and get more information for us.)

The other item of interest:

“In response to the AJC’s reporting, DECAL said Friday that it would create a process to identify and track day cares that have repeatedly failed to meet the state’s standards.”

But that doesn’t say they are going to find a way to notify the consumer.

If you feel strongly that day care center violations should be posted or in some way be transparent and readily available to parents, contact DECAL.  Here is contact information for the department, as well as the commissioner’s name. His email is on the web site.

Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning
2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SE, 754 East Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
404-656-5957

1-888-442-7735

DECAL Commissioner Bobby Cagle

Are you surprised by this AJC investigation? Are you surprised the state lets the centers continue to operate with multiple violations? Are you surprised that parents aren’t being notified in some way about the violations? Would you like to have signs posted in the day care centers with its most recent inspection report? Would that affect your decision making?


18 comments Add your comment

Motherjanegoose

January 23rd, 2012
6:10 am

So how are things with your secret boyfriend? Did you ever post an ad on a dating site? I would love to see it….Maybe make some suggestions…..Of course that’s when I am not talking too much about myself.

Good day to everyone.

Gus

January 23rd, 2012
6:18 am

I leave my kids locked in a closet. I don’t trust them child molestor day care centers.

motherjanegoose

January 23rd, 2012
6:59 am

Really…I have an imposter? I have been out of town for work. TWG…hope you can figure this one out.

One question: is your health more important ( restaurant postings) or your children’s safety?

Future ex wife of Newt

January 23rd, 2012
7:25 am

How about if you eat your children?

motherjanegoose

January 23rd, 2012
7:56 am

I checked the few centers that I visit and they are good. This does not surprise me one bit. In fairness, some of the violations would be things that you do and have at your own house. When I read the restaurant inspection report, it lists specific items and some are not a big deal to me. The day care reports I saw, did not list the problems. I would not react until I knew what the problem was. I would certainly be more concerned with: A child left unattended than food particles found on a table ( I am not sure if those are even items on the list).

I met someone, this past week, who told me that she requires her teachers to check their cell phones in the office. Seems a bit harsh but the way some people talk and text all day…could they be watching the children and interacting with them if they had their cell phones with them? She said it was just easier for her to have all the phones in the office. As someone who has spent her life working with children….things can happen in a flash…even if you are keeping an eagle eye on them. I know some wonderful people who work with children all day and was blessed that I felt confident in the care my children had, when they were small.

Augusta

January 23rd, 2012
8:28 am

I have no idea. None of my kids have ever been in a day care. And for that I am truly thankful!!!!

  

January 23rd, 2012
8:33 am

TWG…hope you can figure this one out.

BORING. No one cares.

Carry on.

DB

January 23rd, 2012
8:59 am

TWG: Sorry, but I got a chuckle out of this: “Then parents know whether to be weary and what to look for.” As if most parents aren’t weary, already :-)

I think it’s a little ingenuous to say, “Oh, well, the reports are available on-line.” That means that the parents have to KNOW to look on-line, and I daresay most don’t. If they are on-line, why aren’t they posted at the center? I’d think that a center who had done well would be happy to post their report.

Of course, you will have parents who make themselves and everyone around them crazy looking for the “perfect” day care, because they only want perfection for their little offspring. But hey, that’s their option, after all.

Working Mom

January 23rd, 2012
9:02 am

Unfortunately, I’m not in a position to stay at home with my one year old son. My husband and I are “working” towards me staying home. Fingers crossed, I can soon. He’s currently in day care, and I know he’s well cared for. However, I would LOVE to see the inspection reports at his facility. I’m paying them to watch and teach my son, while I work. I think they should be held accountable and have their inspections posted.

K's mom

January 23rd, 2012
9:10 am

So far we have not had to put K in full time day care, but he does go to Mother’s Morning Out occasionally and I am going on a pre school tour today for the fall. I am like MJG some things that might show up on a report do not concern me if they are things that would happen at my house. I know my kitchen would not pass a restaurant inspection and my home would not pass a day care inspection either.

I want to know about security measures, pick up/drop off procedures to prevent the wrong person from getting my child and if there is a major and out of the ordinary cleanliness violation. And yes they should be posted, written in terms that anyone can understand and a school should be required have copies available if a parent requests them. If there is an abuse allegation that is going to spread like wildfire amongst parents and no one will have to wait on the authorities to report that.

I kind of get a Preschool director checking in cell phones, as long as the teacher’s families can reach them through a main number in the event of an emergency. I think that is a fair practice given how much I saw personal cell phones being used when I was in an office, not watching small kids. It always stinks when a few bad apples spoil the bunch!

JOD

January 23rd, 2012
9:19 am

Agree with Working Mom that accountability to the consumer is good. But as motherjanegoose said, there are definitely some things I care about more than others. That being said, I looked up DD’s first school, which was new and the only one around that had part time for her age group, and her new school, which is awesome. There was nothing in the scores that would tell me anything particularly useful about either school. I would say a 1 or 2 (or in the case of the ‘new’ scoring, an NC) should be posted with why the score occurred.

A school with a child left unattended on a bus or other grievous issue should be outed to the consumer (and not just on the news). I don’t care if until that moment the school was compliant.

Figment

January 23rd, 2012
10:01 am

My son goes to daycare usually once a week, sometimes more often as needed. He will be starting Pre-K this fall at the daycare he attends. I looked up daycares online before I chose one for him but I agree that there needs to be a posted grading with listed offenses, at each daycare.

Too many children getting hurt or killed due to negligent daycare providers.

Concerned Parent

January 23rd, 2012
10:44 am

Please stay on this story, AJC. I was stunned to see our daycare had failed. I cannot think of a single reason why parents should not be given this information. I agree with the analogy to the restaurant ratings. I would ABSOLUTELY ask questions about violations if they were known.

tink

January 23rd, 2012
11:18 am

Information on child care inspections have always been available. I found them 12 years ago when I was 20 and looking for child care for my daughter. You simply go to decal.ga.gov and click search for child care. Each facility has every inspection report available for viewing, from compliance reports to investigative reports. It was the first site that popped up when I googled for information back then. I am sure it is just as easily located as it was then. I think that you shouldn’t mind doing a little research before heading out to check out day cares.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

January 23rd, 2012
12:06 pm

Hey Guys — I just updated at the top of the story with an explanation from the reporter about what reports are currently available online and how they may not be as helpful to parents as one would hope. So read Tim Eberly’s update for us on that information. I think it help clarify what is already there and what we would like see there.

motherjanegoose

January 23rd, 2012
7:41 pm

OK…..Turns out I do not have an impostor. It was really me. I got trashed on malt liquor and forgot I had posted the strange stuff.

Have a great evening!

Kat

January 23rd, 2012
8:37 pm

If you are going to impersonate motherjanegoose, please know that you made two mistakes off the bat:

1) Lowercase the “M”
2) Provide a longer post (for you, that might be difficult – ahem – because you obviously have shortcomings). Also, the real mjg has a sense of humor

Should they post the findings? ABSOLUTELY! Every time the article “reminded” me that this information was for internal use only, it threw me for a loop. How in the world… How could they possibly…What were they thinking…

If taxpayers are, in ANY way, paying for this group to investigate and compile statistics, then we should get this information pronto. As for that daycare provider who hung up on the reporter or the ones who wouldn’t let reporters talk to a parent (and what an awful parent who didn’t look into that situation; it would have made me stand up and take notice), she’s in the wrong line of work. She says she didn’t know she was non-compliant for four years? I call her out on that one. She’s made herself and the daycare look like idiots!

Good job, AJC!

Pamela Manigault

January 24th, 2012
6:07 pm

I always check the Bright From The Start website when researching daycare centers for my daughter. However, I recently removed my daughter from a daycare center in Stockbridge, GA. A lot of the incidents that occur Bright From The Start has no knowledge of because it has not been reported and incidences that are reported to Bright From The Start they do not place on their website. Bright From The Start determines what they report. This particular daycare center has had several violations of the past two years, reported and unreported, but Bright From The Start continues to extend the date for correction. I believe that Bright From The Start employees are being paid off by daycare centers directors.