Health Code Violations Common at NYC Day Care Centers: Report

Friday, May 17, 2013  |  Updated 7:04 AM EDT
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State senators conducted an investigation into New York City day care centers and are introducing legislation that would require the facilities to be more transparent about health code violations. Tracie Strahan reports.

NBC 4 New York

State senators conducted an investigation into New York City day care centers and are introducing legislation that would require the facilities to be more transparent about health code violations. Tracie Strahan reports.

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Lawmakers want to make New York City day care centers more accountable for health code violations following an investigation that found centers in the five boroughs have racked up nearly 26,000 violations since 2010.

State senators Jeff Klein and Diane Savino introduced legislation Thursday that would require day care centers to post their most recent Department of Health inspection report on-site, at the entrance of the facility and online.

"Let moms vote with their feet," Klein said. "If they see that their local day care center isn't up to standard and maybe dangerous to their children, they can go someplace else."

Hidden-camera footage shot by Klein's staff shows potentially dangerous conditions at some facilities. At a Queens day care center, an exit door was open and two security desks were unstaffed. At one on Staten Island, a closet full of toxic cleaning supplies was easily accessible to children.

According to the investigation, common violations include failures to screen new employees for histories of child abuse and not addressing cleanliness or infrastructure problems.

Brooklyn's 809 day care centers have racked up 11,743 violations since 2010, the investigation found, which was the most in the city. Manhattan's centers had 5,575 violations, the Bronx's had 3,854, Queens' had 3,287 and Staten Island's had 1,388.  

At the Bronx's Eden Christian Academy and Early Childhood Center, which has 120 violations, the most in the city, Executive Director Connie Abraham said the majority of the violations weren't accurate.

"Those violations never existed," said Abraham, who explained she complied with the Health Department's suggestions. The facility was cited for infractions that included failure to conduct fire drills and having a staff member who wasn't trained in CPR. 

The Department of Health released a statement saying the report "grossly mischaracterizes" the inspection process.

"We follow up on every complaint, almost always within 24 hours, and have found that the majority of complaints are unsubstantiated," the statement said. "In the rare cases where we find significant risks, we take immediate steps to bring the program into compliance."

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