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Federal inspectors find 20 Michigan home day cares violate health and safety

Michigan has unannounced inspections once a year, but federal oversight inspectors found those inspections inadequate, and placed children health and safety at risk.
Michigan has unannounced inspections once a year, but federal oversight inspectors found those inspections inadequate, and placed children health and safety at risk.
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) programs, July 2014, Home Providers violate health and safety licensing report

This morning, July 28, the United States Inspector General’s office for Health and Human Services released a report finding 20 Michigan home day cares had compliance issues that put the safety and health of children at risk.

Safety licensing requirements for Michigan child care providers fail
Department of Health and Human Services

The report concluded that state agencies conducted the mandated inspections but failed to properly ensure child care services that received grant money under the Child Care and Development Funds met the health and safety regulations. The oversight of the state inspectors placed children at harm but also may have placed several servicers on a temporary hold, or revoked their license until the Michigan home day cares have been cleared to meet Federal compliance.

Of the 20 Michigan home day cares, 19 homes failed to meet the “physical conditions” standards and 16 providers failed to properly keep records of items such as CPR training and employee annual training. Also, 10 employees with direct child care never had the “required criminal” background checks, according to a report sent to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. State regulations stipulate that “group child care homes, and at 10 percent of family child care homes, in each county, each year,” must have an inspection. But it appears federal inspectors feel the state of Michigan inspections are subpar.

The report included multiple recommendations: the state agency should hire an adequate amount of inspectors to reduce caseloads that may contribute to the lack of oversight, provide onsite monitoring more than once a year, adopt a “mandatory training program to improve provider compliance with health and safety regulations,” and to make certain that all providers and employees or assistants obtain a thorough criminal background check.

Although the federal inspectors reported the need for the state agency to hire more inspectors to reduce the caseload, the state agency refused “tripling the number,” stating it would need more funding. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2012 funding report indicated the CCDF program funding was approximately $5.2 billion.

Michigan has more than 2,500 providers that receive federal funding, of those -- only 20 were selected for federal inspections. If federal inspectors found an issue with every provider selected, is it safe to assume that all providers need an inspection? Some of the deficiencies found and recorded may be hard for parents to read:

  • “Meals prepared on a stovetop directly below a water-damaged ceiling that was flaking paint and sheetrock.”

  • “A swimming pool located next to the children’s outdoor play area and accessible to children by broken wooden gate.”

  • “Caregivers did not wash their hands before preparing food for the children and worked in unsanitary environment.”

  • Care providers “using recalled cribs per the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”

  • “Chemicals accessible to children.”

  • Excessive dirty and flaking paint on outdoor play equipment.

Another group funded by the federal government, Child Care Aware of America, used a U.S. Census data and concluded “Michigan has the 12th highest cost of infant care.

Should Michigan’s state child care agency adopt all recommendations made by federal inspectors, including hiring more state inspectors?