INDIANAPOLIS — The state has launched a new video to help families choose a safe and reliable child care facility.
The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration created a short instructional video on how to use Child Care Finder and other resources to find and compare licensed and registered child cares in their area.
“We have heard from many families and others throughout Indiana that they don’t know how to look for and find safe and reliable child care and early education resources,” Nicole Norvell, director of FSSA’s Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning, said. “We encourage parents to view this tutorial on using Child Care Finder and Brighter Futures Indiana and share it with friends, family, neighbors and others who may benefit from having these great parenting resources at their fingertips.”
Child Care Finder allows families to search licensed providers, registered ministries and exempt providers by numerous parameters, including location, type of provider, hours, licensing status and whether or not the provider participates in Paths to Quality Indiana’s voluntary quality rating and improvement system.
Parents can also find inspection reports and any validated complaints or enforcement actions for each provider they search.
Families can also call 800-299-1627 for assistance in locating child care.
As RTV6 has reported, many parents are unaware of the difference between licensed, unlicensed and illegally operating child providers.
Licensed providers, such as licensed homes and centers, are required to complete safe sleep and CPR training, do criminal background checks, and follow proper child/staff ratios, to name a few.
In Indiana, you must have a license if you are watching six or more children unrelated to the provider.
A child care provider can be unlicensed and operating within the law, but only if they have five or fewer children in their care that are not related to the provider.
It is illegal for a child care provider to watch six or more children without a license, unless they qualify for an exemption.
Call 6 Investigates found between January 2017 and mid-2018 FSSA issued more than 50 cease-and-desist letters to suspected illegal child care facilities throughout the state.
If FSSA receives a complaint about a suspected illegal provider, they go out and inspect and then follow up.
If they are not licensed, make sure to ask about CPR and safe sleep training, criminal background checks on staff, child/staff ratios and how the children are supervised.
For example, ask how many children are in the facility and how many staff are present.
Several children have died in recent years in day care settings, including incidents involving broken equipment.
Mazie Joan Valenta, age 1, died in 2016 after she stopped breathing at an unlicensed day care operated by Debbie Keyes after she strangled to death when her shirt got caught on a broken piece of the crib.
Conor Tilson, 5 months, died at an unlicensed Carmel day care in 2013 in a broken portable crib.
Taliah Brigham, 10 months, died in April 2016 after she was found incorrectly strapped into a car seat at a licensed Speedway child care provider.
Investigators said the daycare had one worker responsible for 36 children in three rooms.
In another case, baby Kyle Davis-Ferguson was found not breathing in 2017 inside an unlicensed child care home on Elmonte Court and later died at a hospital.
FSSA said parents need to know the importance of choosing quality child care.
HOW TO CHECK A CHILD CARE FACILITY
• Plug in a provider's name to ChildCareFinder.IN.gov and look for complaints, inspection reports, and any pending enforcement
• Use your eyes and ears when visiting. Are they following safe sleep? Is equipment working? Are children strapped into their high chairs?
• Drop by the child's day care unexpectedly during the day. What is seen at pickup and drop off may be very different than what's happening during the middle of the day
• Ask to see the provider's license or registration, which should be posted in a public area. If the provider is on probation, it will say so on the license, along with the reasons why.
• Ask to see a copy of the day care's discipline policy. Corporal punishment is not illegal in the state of Indiana
• Ask what their current child-to-staff ratio is. Experts say accidents are more likely to happen when staffers are watching a lot of children.
• Ask if the provider is part of the state's voluntary rating system, called Paths to Quality. The state said this helps guarantee they're meeting and/or exceeding licensing requirements regardless of type of day care
• If you use an unlicensed facility, know they do not have to submit to background checks, CPR training, safe sleep training and other requirements. Ask to see proof your provider has completed these.