NYC day cares: 7 On Your Side's look behind the inspection process

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Wednesday, November 8, 2023
A look into the home day care inspection process
7 On Your Side Investigative reporter Dan Krauth digs into the inspection process for NYC home day cares.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- When you drop off a child at day care, how do you know they're safe?

After two high-profile incidents involving deadly drugs and guns, Eyewitness News is taking a closer look at the inspection process for home day cares. There are more than 7,000 of them in New York City alone.

First, one child died and three others were hospitalized after fentanyl was found inside a home day care in the Bronx. Then, in another home day care in Harlem, ghost guns were found inside.

"We will hold anyone accountable who emerges in these crimes," NYPD Commissioner Edward Caban said.

City leaders said they need to "expand" the day care inspection process. As of now, they're inspected when first licensed and at least once a year after.

"There's an extensive process already in place but we are just dealing with a new enemy," Mayor Eric Adams said.

The New York State Office of Children and Family Services tells Eyewitness News, it wants a range of improvements from more unannounced visits, to enhanced inspection requirements, more regulators and more training. City leaders said they're forming a taskforce to figure out what enhancements to make.

In order to get a license to run a day care out of a home, the applicant must first watch two orientation modules online which takes about two hours. Then, a couple weeks later, an application book comes in the mail for the applicant to fill out. It's quite extensive. It includes everything from fingerprint consent forms, to filling out resumes and references, to CPR certifications.

"Childcare is a very regulated business," said Gregory Brender of the Day Care Council of New York.

He said there's a huge need for more day care availability for younger children and supports any ways to prove the process and pay for employees.

"I think there are a few things that can happen," Brender said. "One is just to ensure that when inspectors are there, that they can see every spot."

During the online orientation, the state already warns applicants that inspectors have the right to search any part of a person's home, not just where children play.

"Ensuring that the background check system is effective and efficient, so making sure we can clear not only everyone who works in the home-based program but actually even the folks that live in the home," Brender said.

The day care application also requires a background check and to list all of those living inside the home where the day care will be located. But, it's up to the owner to be honest. Whether the day care owners in the fentanyl or ghost gun cases filled out the information correctly is unknown.

"Who would've thought we would have to add to our list of inspections, do we have to add 3D printers that can print guns? Do we see in places various items like fentanyl?" Mayor Adams said.

The state sent an email and letter to all day care providers over the past month, encouraging them to carry naloxone. It's the drug that helps reverse the side effects of an overdose.


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