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Tougher checks on child-care licenses proposed

A state senator whose district includes a child-care center that had its licensed revoked because a registered sex offender was living at the same ­address is demanding that state officials devise an “immediate action plan” to respond to gaps in oversight.

Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives, Democrat of Newburyport, also plans to file legislation this month that requires more thorough checks of anyone associated with child-care centers or living on the premises through the state Criminal Offender Record Information and the Sex Offender Registry.

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Last month, a state audit conducted by Auditor Suzanne Bump’s office found that some addresses of registered sex ­offenders matched locations of licensed child-care programs.

O’Connor Ives said this is a “severe problem that deserves a fast response in return.”

Licenses of four child-care centers were revoked by the Depart­ment of Early Education and Care: two in Springfield, one in Leominster, and one in Methuen, part of the senator’s district. O’Connor Ives said that she was very disturbed by the discovery.

The centers that lost their ­licenses failed to report or disclose to the state agency that a registered sex offender was, or had been, living on the premises. No children are believed to have been harmed, said agency officials, who pointed out that none of the registered sex offenders were convicted of crimes that involved children.

The state agency’s acting commissioner, Thomas Weber, said early education and public safety officials immediately responded to the audit findings and have instituted several steps to cross-check the addresses of child-care facilities with the sex offender database.

“We take the audit very seriously,” Weber said Thursday. “We think the recommendations the auditor made are good for the agency.”

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