Effort underway to provide public access to care facility records, violations

The death of a child at a day care center happens more than anyone would like to see.

According to records from the state Department of Human Services, in the past five years, five children have died while being cared for at day care facilities statewide — one each in 2012 and 2013, two in 2014, and one more in 2015.

Records also show that not all of them are doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

Seventeen centers had their license suspended from 2012 to 2014. Most of them were family home care facilities, and one was a day care center.

Three of them had their license revoked in that same time period. Two were family home facilities, one was a day care center.

Family advocates say parents need to know more about these facilities.

There’s a push to get more information online to help parents, and state lawmakers have a proposal moving forward that can help make that happen.

“We need parents to be able to access that information quickly, easily, and free at any time,” said Lisa Kimura, Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition. “We don’t have anything online right now, and that’s kind of a hindrance to parents who need to make a decision.”

Kimura says parents should be able to look at a website and at least see if the day care’s license is current, along with any current investigations.

“We would want to know whether any of these providers have had any investigations performed and the outcomes of those, so whether violations were found or if they were cleared, we want to have all that stuff publicly available,” she said.

A bill moving forward in the House and Senate would require the Department of Human Services to post their inspection reports on its website. It would describe any violations and list any corrective actions taken.

Sen. Josh Green, D, chair of the House human services committee, says he would also like to include complaints posted to give parents additional information.

Click here to read Senate Bill 748 in its entirety.

“I worry a little bit and I say, let’s at least take a cautious approach right now, get those complaints up with some kind of caveat that it’s going to be investigated in the next 30 days, 60 days. If it bears nothing, they take it off,” Green said.

Green says it will take a substantial amount of money and additional staffing to the Department of Human Services to make it happen. But, he says, it should be given enough priority to make it work.

“To do it right, they need more investigators. That is the cost. That’s the problem. Unfortunately, we’ve understaffed DHS. They’ve done great work in most areas, but they are understaffed, and they need more resources to do these investigations,” he said.

The bill calls for the information to be posted starting next year.

Click here for tips on how to find a quality day care center.

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