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I-Team Investigation Sparks Action To Strengthen Oversight At Child Care Facilities

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By Charlotte Huffman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Because of our investigation into daycare centers, action is now being taken to strengthen oversight at hundreds of these facilities.

READ: I-Team: Who’s Watching Out For Your Kids?

Investigative reporter Charlotte Huffman has more on today’s developments.

It all started when a 3-year-old boy was found alone and wandering the streets of Philadelphia after walking away from a Philly daycare.

READ: EXCLUSIVE: 3-Year-Old Wanders Out Of Day Care Center In Feltonville

“He just shot past this way and he went up towards the Boulevard,” said a neighbor who saw the boy.

Surprisingly, the I-Team found that the Pennsylvania’s State Department of Welfare, the state agency responsible for routine inspections had never inspected that center, until after that incident.

The facility is a family child care home.

It’s the smaller type daycare that is allowed to care for up to 6 children.

Only an initial fire safety inspection by the city is required.

Unlike larger daycare facilities, all 800 of the smaller ones are not subject to mandatory state inspections each year.

Only random checks are performed.

That discovery got the I-Team digging through hundreds of records.

And we found inspection results for just 10 percent of them.

Some of the violations included no FBI clearance for caretakers and evidence that staff used physical punishment on a child.

The I-Team’s investigation caught the attention of Philadelphia City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown.

“I was struck by the CBS story,” said the councilwoman.

“Anger doesn’t begin to capture the sentiment I would have as a mother to do discover that those responsible were not on their task in making sure my child was taken care of and so when I saw the story I put myself in that mother’s shoes,” she told us.

And today at City Hall Councilwoman Reynolds Brown introduced a bill to mandate annual inspections for all child care facilities in Philadelphia.

“The fact that we should go the extra mile to make sure children are protected is the responsible thing for us to do,” she said. “This legislation pushes us in that direction.”

Back in November, the state told us they don’t have the resources to inspect all daycares.

That’s why Reynolds Brown plans to hold hearings to figure out how the city and state can work together to solve the problem.

Because bottom line, when parents choose a licensed daycare, there’s an assumption that the facility is in compliance.

 

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