New reporting guidelines needed for daycare providers

Dropping your child off at a daycare home or center is never easy for a parent or guardian. I am the parent of a young son, and I know how hard it is to leave your child in someone else’s care. We research our options, and hope that we have chosen the safest provider for our children.

When a constituent of mine from Dearborn Heights came forward with her heartbreaking experience involving a home daycare provider, it became extremely clear to me that we must do more to protect our children. In June 2007, Patricia Chorba was residing in Jackson County with her three-month-old son, Jayden. She used a list of child care providers that was provided to her by the Department of Human Services (DHS) to choose a child care provider. Ms. Chorba dropped off Jayden for his first day of child care on June, 20, 2007. Just six days later Jayden passed away from asphyxiation. An investigation later revealed that the daycare owner had entrusted her 14-year-old teenager with Jayden’s care. Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident, as another child had previously passed away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome at the same daycare home in 1998.

The history of care given by a daycare provider should be disclosed in its entirety to parents. To better protect our children, I have worked with my Republican colleague, Sen. Mark C. Jansen, to introduce a package of bills to strengthen the reporting requirements for daycare providers. Parents deserve all past information on rule violations when they are entrusting their child’s safety and welfare to another person.

Senate Bills 723 and 724 would create stricter reporting guidelines for a licensed child care facility. My bill, SB 723, would require that daycare providers make a licensing notebook, containing all information on incidents and investigations, available to parents and guardians. Parents would also be given a form to sign that summarizes all incidents that occurred at the center in the previous 10 years which resulted in the hospitalization or death of a child. This bill would also eliminate the possibilities of a daycare provider to renew a child care license or certificate of registration, if they had a previous license revoked due to a rule violation that resulted in the serious injury or death of a child while under their care.

Senator Jansen’s bill, SB 724, would require DHS to provide a five year look-back on their website for all daycare licenses. This would allow parents and guardians to cross-check a provider’s information with DHS information. Currently, DHS participates in onsite inspections of licensed daycare providers every two years, and rule violations are posted online for a two year period until the next inspection. The DHS does not report previous incidents, even if a child’s death has occurred, before that two-year period.

Unfortunately, Ms. Chorba was never made aware of the previous incident that resulted in a child’s death while in the same provider’s care. The provider was not found negligent in the incident that took place in 1998, but was found to have several rule violations at the time. These bills would ensure that parents would have this kind of information before choosing a daycare provider. Providing more information will also help daycare providers establish themselves as quality providers that parents can trust.

It is up to the state to provide accurate and complete background information to paren ts on rule violations and past injuries or deaths that have occurred in licensed child care homes and centers. These bills will do that, and Senator Jansen and I will fight hard to see that they move as quickly as possible through the Legislature.

(State Sen. Tupac Hunter represents the 5th District, which is comprised of Dearborn Heights, Inkster and northwest Detroit. He serves as Minority Vice Chair of the Banking & Financial Institutions and the Homeland Security & Emerging Technologies Committees. He is also a member of the Commerce & Tourism and the Economic Development & Regulatory Reform Committees.)

Suzanne Caterino
Communications Advisor/Photographer
Senate Democratic Office