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Why you probably wouldn't know about violations at your child's day care

A recent investigation by reporters at the New York Daily News details numerous and abhorrent deficiencies within the city's and state's day care licensing and violation report systems which has prompted the de Blasio administration to take action. Among the incidents chronicled in the paper was one involving a three-year-old boy who drowned in a swimming pool after he wandered unattended into the backyard of an adjacent day care which was owned by the same licensed operator. As evidence of how flawed the system is, while the license for the day care facility that the boy attended was revoked, the day care facility next door remains in operation.

Other examples of serious health and safety violations include several incidences in which young toddlers wandered away unnoticed from facilities or were unknowingly left behind at parks and playgrounds. Not only are the reports of the incidents disturbing, but even more disturbing is the fact that parents are often completely unaware of such violations.

This is because many day care owners and operators who are shut down due to safety and health violations simply reopen and obtain a license under another name or even under the same name using a nearby address. Additionally inspection reports only remain on file for two years, regardless of how serious an offense may be, and often contain cryptic and confusing accounts; the specific details of which can only be obtained months after filing a request via the Freedom of Information Law.

In response to the scathing report, the de Blasio administration recently took action to identify and shut down illegal day care centers and providers and ramp up inspections of facilities with "repeat code violations." As part of this initiative, all of the 11,400 day care operators within the city are now required to display their licenses.

While the administration's actions to crack down on illegal and unsafe day cares are a step in the right direction, a convoluted licensing system in which some providers obtain licenses via the state and others from the city continues to provide a gaping loophole for violators.

Source: New York Daily News, "EXCLUSIVE: De Blasio administration targets illegal day care operators, cracks down on licensed sites with repeat safety violations," Greg B. Smith, Feb. 28, 2016

New York Daily News, "EXCLUSIVE: New York City day care violations can slip through the cracks, leading parents to think their kids are safer than they are," Greg B. Smith, Feb. 11, 2016

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