I-Team: Who’s Watching Out For Your Kids?
By Charlotte Huffman
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Thousands of children are left in the hands of day-care providers every day.
But after one local center made headlines in September when a child walked away, the I-Team went to work digging through inspection reports and asking, ‘who’s watching out for your kids?’.
Investigative reporter Charlotte Huffman goes to the top to get answers.
A three-year-old boy, alone on the streets of Philly and it’s all because a day-care didn’t do its job.
“He just shot past this way and he went up towards the boulevard,” said a neighbor who saw the little boy.
The dangerous Roosevelt Boulevard is just two blocks away.
The state blamed workers at the Daisy Jimenez Family Child Care Home for what the inspection report described as ‘leaving children alone’.
The inspection determined the boy left ‘thru an unlocked door’.
And now, the I-Team has learned that inspection was Daisy Jimenez’s first-ever inspection.
But she’s not alone.
The facility is one of nearly 800 of its type in Philadelphia.
It’s called a family child care home which is Pennsylvania’s smallest day-care classification and they are allowed to watch up to 6 children.
Unlike larger facilities the family child care homes are not checked when they open and do not have mandatory inspections after that.
They are only subject to random inspections.
The I-Team poured through records for every one of these facilities in Philadelphia.
We found inspection results for just 10 percent of them.
The violations include, no FBI clearance for caretakers, evidence that staff used physical punishment on a child and exit steps blocked with trash.
We visited some of the homes.
Gwendolyn Lonon’s place was cited for having more than the six kid limit and for allowing children near a pool with a staff-member who had no water safety training.
The state says the violations have since been corrected.
Undercover, we spotted a nasty scene in the backyard of one facility where children’s toys were surrounded by dog waste.
We took our findings to the Pennsylvania Department Of Public Welfare.
“The expectation would be that those facilities are honoring those things to support the safe and healthy development of children while in their care,” said Terry Shaner Wade, the director of the Bureau of Certification Services.
So we asked, “If we found these violations in just the 10 percent inspected then what does that mean for the other 90 percent?”
“Speaking in a more universal, in a more universal tone, would I like us to be out there more,” she said. “Yes, all of us would like us to be out there more.”
Manpower is the issue according to the state.
But Philadelphia City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown isn’t buying it.
“It boils down to priorities or lack thereof,” she said.
Reynolds Brown sponsored legislation increasing the number of children these facilities could care for.
But the councilwoman had no idea that most of them are not inspected.
We asked her if that is good enough for the children of Philadelphia.
“Absolutely it’s not,” she said. “In fact it’s egregious and concerning for parents and mommies and daddies who have to look for quality, accessible child care.”
She is promising to talk to the state about strengthening the regulations.
Meantime, remember that day-care that left a little boy on his own?
Well, Daisy Jimenez is still open for business, even with a revoked license.
Jimenez is able to remain open because the state says she is appealing the license revocation.
And until a decision is made, she is allowed to continue to watch children.
We could not reach Jimenez for comment.
We also examined records in the surrounding suburbs and found the inspection rate was much higher.
And the state claims the inspection rate for the last fiscal year has improved to 19 percent.
We’ve made it easy for you to find out if your child’s day care has been inspected and if there have been violations.
See the links we’ve included with our story.
5 STEPS TO SELECTING A CHILD CARE PROVIDER
COMPASS WEBSITE FOR FAMILY CHILD CARE HOME INSPECTION REPORTS
FAMILY CHILD CARE HOME REGULATIONS
A PARENTS’ GUIDE TO CHOOSING QUALITY CARE AND STARS PROGRAMS