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States found lax on day-care checks

WASHINGTON — Parents with children in day care often assume workers have cleared background checks and the facility has passed unannounced inspections, but a review to be released Tuesday finds a large number of states don’t have such requirements.

The watchdog arm of the Department of Health and Human Services found that 21 states do not require an annual unannounced inspection of all licensed child-care providers and that only 15 require background checks considered comprehensive by the agency’s Administration for Children and Families, according to the report.

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About 1.6 million children use federal subsidies to attend day-care programs at about 500,000 centers and home-based providers.

Even when unannounced inspections are required by states, they aren’t always done, according to the report from HHS’s inspector general, which took a closer look at California, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, and Texas as part of its review.

When inspection visits were done, the deficiencies found included not enough workers to maintain required staff-to-child ratios, unscreened people living in family day-care homes, and broken playground equipment.

The states tended to have more stringent requirements for center-based day cares than those based in homes, the report found.

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