Health Department Submits Comprehensive Set of Child Care Reforms for Board of Health Approval

Proposals increase accountability and transparency, improve health and safety, prevent fraud, and ensure testing of potable water for lead

June 7, 2016 – Following 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, the Health Department today announced that it has submitted a set of proposals to the Board of Health for changes to the Health Code. The proposals will increase accountability and transparency, improve health and safety and prevent fraud in the City’s child care programs. They result from a comprehensive review of the 2,249 City-regulated non-school and non-home-based child care sites.

“Parents should be confident that when they find a child care service their children will be in good hands, which is why we are introducing additional safety measures for the Board of Health’s consideration,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “These reforms build on our existing efforts to make the system more transparent for parents and safer for children.”

The 11 changes that will be presented to the Board of Health for consideration will increase the safety of young children in child care and give parents more peace of mind when selecting child care for their children. Proposals include:

  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 30 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. At today’s Board of Health meeting, the Department asked the Board 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 will be published in the City Record and the public will be able to submit written comments or appear at a public hearing to speak in favor or against any or all of the proposed changes. After the public comment period and hearing, the Board would likely vote at its next meeting, scheduled for September 13, 2016, on whether the Health Code should be changed.

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MEDIA CONTACT: Christopher Miller (347) 396-4177
pressoffice@health.nyc.gov