Daycare Database

- KERN COUNTY -- When you drop off your kids at a state licensed daycare, you assume you are leaving them in a safe environment. But what do you really know about the place?

There are 251 active licenses for daycare facilities in Kern County. In the past five years, more than 60 have had Type A citations, issued for the most serious types of violations.

The state Department of Social Services launched its new website last year. You can find basic information on the state's website, but details of violations are limited. The DSS website lists only the number of violations, not details of what happened. Other important information is lacking, and in some cases, inconsistent and inaccurate.

"You click on it and you can't even find out what," said local mom Kim Gonzalez.

At some facilities, those details can be shocking -- Kern County kids getting into rat poison, being injured by staff, or wandering off the property.

Gonzalez said, "Why are we not able to look on the computer and actually see what's going on with these child care facilities?"

The state issues citations when there is a health or safety risk to children.

"Type B violations are things that are serious, but that can be fixed," said Michael Weston, DSS spokesperson. "Type A is something that needs to be fixed immediately because it represents a danger, immediately."

But you have to go to the DSS office in Fresno to see all the violations from local facilities.

For example, one day care provider with a string of serious violations you probably never would have heard of is Lil' Explorers.

In their files, we found six Type A violations in the last five years.

In December, a child found a pocket knife near the sleeping cots. The knife apparently had been left by someone who cleans the center.

A month later, a toddler escaped from the play yard and found his way out of the facility. A passerby found the child and returned the toddler to the daycare.

In response to the violations, the daycare fired the cleaning company and included a safety sweep in the pre-opening procedures and added a lock to the play area gate.

Lil' Explorers administrator Dawn Holleman declined to do an interview about the violations. Instead, she emailed a statement saying in part, "Lil' Explorers is dedicated to providing the very best care possible and is always available to speak to any questions or concerns."

Adding to the confusion is the fact not all Type A violations are so alarming. For example, not instructing kids on fire drill procedure. But you can't tell the nature of the violation by looking at the state's website, only that there is a violation.

"There's definitely a lot of regulations involved and it's for good reason," said Karen Kiser, co-owner of A Good Time Out.

Kiser says the limited amount of information the state provides can come off worse than it actually is.

"In our situation, if someone wants to call me and ask me about it, I have no problem telling them exactly what happened," said Kiser.

Weston says daycares must keep a record of violations for three years, but are only required to provide a copy of violations that have occurred in the last year. Citations must be posted for 30 days.

Weston says there isn't a timeline for when more information will be available through the website. In the meantime, licensing and inspection documents are maintained in Fresno.

"That's a big inconvenience," said Gonzalez. "You want to know as a parent, that they're going to a safe place."

We've posted every Type A citation in the last five years on our website along with responses from facilities. There are 61 facilities in Kern County with Type A violations, but there is nearly an equal number of daycares that don't have any Type A or B violations.

Click here to see a list of which facilities have Type A violations and which have none:
http://www.kerngoldenempire.com/Daycare-Database
 
To visit the state's CCLD Facility Search, click here:
https://secure.dss.ca.gov/CareFacilitySearch/
 

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