KGUN 9News


How safe is your child's day care center?

Posted at 8:51 AM, Nov 18, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-18 10:51:46-05
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - A child in day care left at a Tucson restaurant during a field trip.  A baby left in the same soiled diaper all day.
Karen Zakerwski, Director of "Wings On Words showed KGUN9 what Department of Health Services inspectors or surveyors keep a close eye on when inspecting daycare centers.
The first stop, the diapering area in the toddler room.Zakerwski demonstrates what staff should do. "The adult is always close to the child -- has her hand on him. Adult will take supplies out of the cabinet before she even brings the child up here to diaper." Diapers have to be changed as soon as their soiled and staff must keep a log or face a violation.
Common problems found after looking into the records of 60 out of more than 500 day care providers in Southern Arizona.
Cara Christ, State Director of Department of Health Services, added another frequent violation, not maintaining staff to child ratios.
At a different day care center, an inspector found a worker in a room alone caring for 20 children as young as three.That's five to seven more children more than there should have been.
KGUN9 found similar scenarios on field trips.Too many children, not enough staff, and at least two cases of workers leaving children behind in restaurants. 
DHS records point to quality staff being essential;, so parents should check staff credentials.
"Minimum working on an associates. Hopefully with an associates. Perhaps working towards a bachelors degree. Prior experience is really important," said Christ.
If that doesn't happen, chaos can erupt. That is the case at another day care center recently hit with 23 citations. DHS inspectors spotted one and two year olds hitting each other, standing on furniture, and climbing on bookcases because the worker could not control their behavior.
Back to Wings on Words, moving to the cabinet where medications are stored. "We have a locked box for children's medications and then our paperwork that is required by state licensing, said Zakerwski. Each time the staff has to meticulously fill out the paperwork for medicine.
Searching state records, KGUN9 found a day care hit with a serious violation after a child was given wrong medication.
The red flag list is long so Zakerski suggest parents be vigilant and ask lots of questions about child care standards.
"If we didn't have those standards, it's our human nature to just say. Oh, nobody is really checking. Or I don't have to worry about that," said Zakerski.
If something doesn't look right, talk to the day care provider and if your concerns fall on deaf ears, report it to DHS.
To search a day care provider, click here.
To file an online complaint against a child care provider, click here.
To learn more about the survey/inspection process, click here.