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Childcare Inspections Result in Warnings
August 13, 2008 - Surprise inspections the week before last led to the discovery that two Knightstown child care providers were not in compliance with state child care licensing laws.
On Aug. 1, a consultant from the state's Bureau of Child Care, a division of the Family and Social Services Administration, conducted inspections of three home child care providers in Knightstown. According to Michelle Thomas, BCC administrator, two of the three child care providers were found to be in violation of the state's licensing requirements limiting the number of children that can be care for by unlicensed providers.
"The statute in Indiana says if you serve more than five children who are unrelated to you, you have to become licensed," Thomas told The Banner last Thursday. She said if a complaint is received about an unlicensed provider caring for more children than the law permits, the BCC conducts an inspection within 30 days.
According to Thomas, a child care provider on Brown Street had 14 children present at the time of the inspection who were not related to the provider, as well as three children who were related. A report completed by the person who conducted the inspection indicated that this child care provider initially did not cooperate and the inspector had to return with local law enforcement before being allowed to enter the home.
Thomas said the second provider who was in violation, located on Third Street, had seven children present who were not related to her, as well as four who were. A third child care provider, located on Adams Street, had a total of eight children present when inspected, but was not in violation, however, because only four of the children were unrelated to her.
Although they were in violation of the state law, Thomas said the child care providers on Brown and Third streets were not fined this time. State law permits fines of up to $100 a day for those in violation.
"Typically, what we do is we explain to the provider what the law is," Thomas said. "We leave them with a copy of the statute and inform them that we'll be back within 30 days to make sure they are operating legally." If a child care provider is still out of compliance during a follow-up inspection, Thomas said the BCC will issue a cease and desist order and consider other legal options through the office of the Indiana Attorney General.
"Our number one concern is the health and safety of the children," Thomas said. "The more kids you have and the less staff you have ... it's just much harder to supervise and make sure that they're safe."
According to Thomas, the BCC does not know how many unlicensed child care providers there are in the state. "That's the million dollar question," she said. "It's anyone's guess as far as how many homes and preschools we have out there operating because they fall into one of the 14 exceptions to licensing that there are in this state."
Thomas said that ensuring that unlicensed child care providers comply with state law is not something that's done to put these people out of business or to limit the child care choices parents have. Rather, she said the BCC's actions are aimed at ensuring the health and safety of children.
"Parents who were taking their children to these homes may not have even understood that they were operating illegally," Thomas said. "We absolutely support parent choice, but the parents may not understand the implications of having 14 children with one adult in a home."
For more information about child care licensing requirements, contact the Bureau of Children Services toll free at 1-877-511-1144, or visit the agency's website at www.in.gov/fssa/carefinder/.
Under Indiana statute, licenses are not required by home child care providers if:
*The provider does not receive regular compensation for their services;
*The provider only cares for children to whom they are related;
*The provider is caring for fewer than six children who are not related to the provider; or
*The provider operates to serve migrant children.
(Source: Indiana Code 12-17.2-2-8)
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