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DOWNEY – AB 2621, a measure by Assemblymembers Cristina Garcia (D – Bell Gardens) and Kristin Olsen (R – Modesto) that would make inspector and complaint reports relating to child care centers available online, has passed out of Senate Human Services Committee on a unanimous, bipartisan 4-0 vote.
Currently, California law does not provide a source for parents to learn about inspection and complaint reports that have been filed against state-licensed day care, pre-school and after-school programs. If enacted, AB 2621 will give parents easy access to a more comprehensive picture of child care facilities by requiring the Department of Social Services to post substantiated complaints on its website.
In attendance at the hearing was Julie Garcia, mother to Adam Dash, who came to share the highly publicized story about her sons’ death and to convey the importance of having validated complaint reports accessible to the public. Adam was an 11-month-old baby, who died when he was unable to breathe after being improperly strapped into a car seat and placed in a closet to nap, an illegal practice that was commonplace at this child care center. The center had been issued multiple citations, but that critical information was not accessible to Ms. Garcia.
“Currently, this type of information, invaluable to new parents, is all but inaccessible to the general public. Adam would still be alive today had his father and I been aware of the history of violations.” Garcia said. “Making complaints and violations easily accessible to parents online will prevent other families from the painful experience and the loss my family and I have suffered.”
The operator of the child care center, Twinkle Twinkle Little Stars, had been cited in 2009 and 2010 for multiple violations and had more than twice as many infants than what was allowed under her license, yet none of the parents were aware. Last month the operator of the facility was sentenced to six years in state prison for the death of Adam Dash.
“It should not take a tragedy like Adam Dash to awaken the department on the need to have validated complaints online,” Assemblymember Garcia said. “This is where we are today, and it is time for us to hold the Department’s feet to the fire.”
“As a working mom, one of the greatest challenges over the years has been to find child care for our children. In California, it is nearly impossible for parents to even research violations against an unscrupulous day care center,” Assemblymember Olsen said. “The sooner we can begin the process of listing substantiated complaints online, the better off children in California will be.”
Both authors stressed that reporting a violation means little if the information is not made transparent to families who are searching for child care centers.
AB 2621 passed out of the Senate Human Services Committee with a 4 to 0 vote and will be on its way to Senate Appropriations committee in the coming weeks.
Published: July 3, 2014 – Volume 13 – Issue 12