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"After conducting an initial risk assessment of child care centers, it was clear that the deficiencies found in these 12 centers posed a serious threat to the safety of the children enrolled in these centers," Nichols said. "Because they were repeat-offenders that failed to take corrective action after being cited for serious violations, it was imperative that these centers be closed. We are working with the families of children in these centers to provide them with information about other child care available."
The following child care centers licenses are revoked effective immediately:
|Children’s Center for Love and Learning
|Children’s World LA||Leesville|
|First Step To Learning||Clayton|
|God’s Little Blessings Daycare, LLC||Sulphur|
|House of Love #2||Bossier City|
|Liberty Christian Academy||LaPlace|
|Miss Cindy’s Day Care, LLC||Pineville|
|New Dawn Daycare Center
|Shell’s Day Care||Edgard|
|Tender Times Inc.||Bossier City|
|Tinkerbelle’s Day Care II
|Victoria Kiddie Castle||Baton Rouge|
Examples of deficiencies cited at the centers included inadequate child to staff ratios, inadequate staff training, supervision violations, transportation issues, inappropriate storage of harmful substances and other hazards.
As a result of the revocation of these licenses and an emergency rule issued by the department in September, these centers will not be able to reapply for a new license for a period of two years. The rule disqualifies any child care, child residential or adult residential facility from reapplying for a new license for a period of two years if that facility's licensure application is denied or if the facility's license is revoked, not renewed, or voluntarily surrendered to avoid adverse action due to the provider's failure to comply with state statutes and licensing rules. A copy of the emergency rule can be found at www.dss.state.la.us/childcareupdates.
"In September, we announced our plans to reform child care licensing and outlined five steps we would take to provide safety and security for children," Nichols said. "We have made significant progress in our efforts to reform child care licensing and to ensure the safety of children, and we are committed to continuing this work, assess all of the state's licensed child care centers and to strengthen child care regulations in Louisiana."
According to Nichols the steps to reform child care licensing standards include:
- An assessment of a select number of facilities within the next 90 days
- An assessment of all 1,906 child care centers in the state over the next year
- Strengthening child care regulations and developing policies and procedures to improve child safety
- Restructuring the Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education licensing program and staff
- The formation of an advisory group to provide input and guidance on proposed rules, regulations and standards
"As we conducted this initial assessment, we found that the majority of child care centers in our state provide quality care to children and provide that care in a safe and secure environment," Nichols said. "While there is work to do in making improvements in our licensing standards, to align them with nationally recognized best practices and to make the process work better for our staff and for child care centers, only handful of centers had persistent problems that had gone uncorrected."
Nichols said that the agency will review the minimum standards and requirements for child care centers and rewrite the regulations to strengthen child care licensing policies and develop procedures for staff that will ensure consistent application of the standards for all child care centers statewide. Following that, DSS will hold statewide meetings to receive feedback from providers and the public after the revised regulations are developed.
Restructuring child care licensing will provide the program's 22 field staff with individually assigned caseloads, which will provide greater consistency in inspections, follow national best practices, and help build better relationships between DSS staff and child care providers.
Nichols said that the agency's goal is to finalize the changes and have the new standards in place by September 2010.
DSS began assessing the child care licensing program after Senate Bill 238 by Senator Willie Mount became effective on June 30, 2009, which gave sole authority for decisions on the denial and revocation of child care licenses to DSS. Previously two outside committees, which were abolished by statute, had the authority to revoke a license, deny an application, as well as approve licensing regulations. Since July 1, DSS has revoked nine child care licenses and denied three applications.
As part of the reform and fulfilling its goal to be more transparent, DSS child care licensing inspection reports conducted after August 1 are available online at http://carefacility.dss.louisiana.gov. Facilities can be searched by name, zip code, parish, license number or license type.
For more information on DSS' work to reform child care licensing and improve quality child care for children, visit www.dss.louisiana.gov.