Federal audits: Arizona’s inspections of daycare centers could be improved

Source: Jessica Boehm | Cronkite News
February 13, 2015

WASHINGTON — Alcohol stored in an unlocked cabinet, a dirty fish tank and a smelly diaper bin – that’s just a sampling of the health and safety infractions federal inspectors spotted at a handful of Arizona child care centers.

In two reports this month, the Department of Health and Human Services said that while Arizona officials do the required number of child care center inspections, they may not have ensured “that each provider complied with one or more State licensing requirements to ensure the health and safety of children.”

State officials did not dispute the findings and said they would address the shortcomings cited in the reports – but noted that the federal inspections were only a snapshot in time and that “not all providers meet all requirements, all of the time.”

Advocates who had seen the reports questioned the size of the federal audits, which looked at three of the 896 commercial child care operations in the state and 20 of the 434 home providers.

“I think it’s just random and unfortunate,” said Erin Raden, executive director of the Arizona Child Care Association. “I think it would have been just as likely for them to randomly choose three centers that were perfect on that day.”

The Arizona inspections were part of a nationwide check in 2013 by federal inspectors looking into centers and providers that receive federal money through the Child Care and Development Fund, which provides subsidized child care for low-income families.

In Arizona, that federal fund is overseen by the Arizona Department of Economic Security, but the Arizona Department of Health Services is in charge of the licensing and inspecting of the facilities.

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