Board Of Health Adopts Child Care Reforms Proposed By The Health Department

September 13, 2016

childrens self defense fundFollowing an increase in the frequency of inspections of low-performing child care programs, and the creation of a team dedicated to identify and close illegal daycare sites from Harlem to Hollis.

the Board of Health today approved a set of 11 proposals that will further increase accountability and transparency, improve health and safety and prevent fraud in the City’s child care programs.The new reforms result from a recent comprehensive review of the 2,249 City-regulated non-school and non-home-based child care sites. 

The changes approved today, which are specified below, complement a current plan announced by Mayor de Blasio in May to require City-permitted child care programs to post performance cards conspicuously on their front door. State Senator Jeffrey D. Klein and Assembly Member Michele R. Titus partnered with the City on developing the plan and passed legislation codifying it in to State Law. The City’s Child Care Performance Card initiative will launch in 2017.

“Today the Board of Health adopted a comprehensive set of reforms that ensure our youngest New Yorkers remain safe at daycare,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “These measures increase the accountability of child care sites and make it easier for parents to find information. I encourage parents and caregivers to use our Child Care Connect website to look at a site’s inspection history to ensure their little one is at a safe and permitted facility.”

“When it comes to the safety and health of our kids, our City must take every precaution,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Committee on Health. “By implementing these reforms, the Department of Health is living up to the high standards that NYC families deserve. Day care providers are critical institutions in the communities they serve, and that’s why it’s so important that they adhere to rigorous safety and transparency measures. I thank Commissioner Bassett and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for implementing these strong reforms on behalf of families across the five boroughs.”

The 11 changes that have been approved by the Board of Health will increase the safety of young children in child care and give parents more peace of mind when selecting child care for their children.

The proposals that were formally adopted today included:

1. Require posting the permit conspicuously at the child care center entrance. This proposal helps parents confirm that a child care facility is licensed and that it has been inspected by the Health Department.

2. Require new child care services to have FDNY-approved fire alarms. All child care facilities must have smoke detectors. This proposal would link detectors to alarms to ensure that the entire facility is notified of smoke or hazardous condition.

3. Enhance tracking and oversight of teacher training and certification. The Health Department requires that teachers are properly credentialed by qualified training programs, and track teachers who are working at a center while finishing their early childhood education studies to ensure they earn the required certification. This proposal requires submission of teaching and training credentials for verification by a specialized agency.

4. Require programs to notify the Department within 5 days of when an educational director is terminated or resigns. Child care centers must have an educational director on site. This proposal would require that centers have qualified supervisors at all times.

5. Authorize the Commissioner to require any child care service that consistently fails to correct imminent or repeat serious violations criteria to enroll in a performance improvement program, which provides technical assistance and case management services.

6. Authorize the Commissioner to revoke a child care service permit, after a hearing, if the service has been enrolled in performance improvement program, but is unable or unwilling to implement a corrective action plan to improve its compliance with rules.

7. Set out additional, specific circumstances that, when found, would allow the Department to revoke a child care permit following a hearing. These additional circumstances could include when a center has had its permit suspended multiple times in three years or has a pattern of serious, repeated violations.

8. Require that tap water be tested for lead every five years for all child care centers and require centers to submit lab results to DOHMH. Currently, the Health Code requires child care centers to test for lead in water once, with no specification of timeline. With this change, child care centers would be required to produce a lead water test within 60 days of opening a new child care service, and every five years thereafter. If test results show elevated lead levels, the center would have to implement a corrective action plan subject to Health Department approval.

9. Clarify that child care services must allow Early Intervention and Committee on Preschool Special Education professional consultants access to children receiving assessment and support. These professionals have already been cleared to work with children; the proposed change would facilitate their ability to provide children with essential support services.

10. Update the list of required teacher immunizations to conform to the new Recommended Adult Immunization Schedule approved by the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. All teachers must have the appropriate vaccinations and immunizations to work with children in their care. This proposal would ensure that all teachers have the most up to date vaccination schedule.

11. Tighten fraud protection controls. The proposal would expand documentation requirements so the Department can better uncover fraud in the permit application process and in the centers’ records of staff qualifications. 

The Board of Health meets quarterly. On June 7th, the Department asked the Board of Health to initiate rule making by publishing these proposals and soliciting public comments. The Board agreed to consider making these changes to the Health Code. The proposals were published in the City Record and the public had the opportunity to submit written comments and appear at a public hearing to speak in favor or against any or all of the proposed changes.

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