October 6, 2013 03:28PM
By John Christoffersen
NEW HAVEN — Federal inspections of 20 licensed family day care homes in Connecticut found violations in all of the homes, including lack of criminal background checks, safety issues such as blocked pathways and lack of protective covers for electrical outlets and sanitary concerns including dirty floors.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, which audited the federally-funded homes last year in unannounced site visits, said in a report Tuesday that eight of the 20 providers had one or more household members who lacked required criminal records checks.
Inspectors cited issues such as furniture or other structures that could tip onto a child, chipping paint and hazardous materials such as lighter fluid in areas accessible to children. Other issues included insufficient indoor play space, a home with wires that hung into an outdoor play area, a smoke detector without a battery, dog feces in several locations in an outdoor play area and fly strips with dead insects hanging near a children’s dining area.
The homes are in Waterbury, New Britain, Hartford, East Hartford, Bridgeport, New Haven, Windsor and Windsor Locks.
Two providers voluntarily surrendered their licenses after the federal review, according to the report. One provider was charged with risk of injury to a child and neglect after police found five unattended children in the house, according to the report.
The report recommended state officials conduct more frequent inspections, develop a mandatory training program to improve compliance with health and safety regulations and adding examples of situations in which criminal background checks must be conducted of household members. The state Department of Social Services and Department of Public Health agreed with the recommendations, saying officials were seeking funding to step up inspections to once per year instead of every third year.
“We agree that increasing the presence of inspectors in programs will improve the health and safety of children in these settings by identifying deficiencies before children are negatively impacted,” said William Gerrish, spokesman for the Department of Public Health said. “Increased presence by regulators will also help providers achieve and maintain full compliance.”