Three high-ranking New York City officials recently revealed the results of a probe into the daycare scene in two of the city's boroughs. Daniel Donovan, Staten Island District Attorney, recently banded together with Mark Peters, Commissioner of the Department of Investigations, and Kenneth Thompson, Brooklyn District Attorney, to launch an investigation of daycare centers in Brooklyn and Staten Island. What they found was troubling to say the least.
Of the daycare centers that Donovan, Peters, and Thompson had investigated as part of their probe, they found nine with notable violations. The nature of those violations ran a wide range. In one daycare, Peters said that there was rat poison on the wall, a pile of garbage blocking the exits, a broken fire alarm lever, and a carton of rotten milk in the refrigerator. Another daycare center was found to be a fraudulent business, allegedly guilty of collecting $60,000 in taxpayer money from the city but never providing any actual daycare services.
The oversights extended to the employees as well. According to Thompson, there was an employee at one center who was working under a false identity. It's unclear why the employee was working under an alias, but the situation underlines a larger problem with the daycare centers that were probed. Several of them had phony background checks on file or were missing background check files and other employee documents entirely. Thompson merely said that "these workers were not fit to protect our children."
In other words, at least a few of the daycare centers that Donovan, Peters, and Thompson investigated had neglected to run background checks and make sure that they were not employing sex offenders, violent criminals, or other dangerous individuals. Clearly, greater levels of regulation, inspection, and overall accountability appear to be needed for daycares in Brooklyn and Staten Island.
Donovan, Peters, and Thompson are seeking action against the nine daycare centers that their probe flagged as unsafe, as well as the owners in charge of operating those daycare centers. The owners have been charged with numerous offenses, like possessing forged documents and fraud. All of them have pleaded not guilty and will likely await trial.
In the meantime, six of the flagged daycare facilities have been permanently shut down. Officials are watching another one of the centers and monitoring it until it officially closes its doors by the end of the year. Donovan, Peters, and Thompson want the other two centers to be shut down as well. Whether the three officials are also lobbying for increased background check regulation and other new rules for daycare centers remains to be seen.