DETROIT (AP) - A review of 20 Michigan home day cares found that each wasn't in compliance with at least one state licensing requirement for children's health and safety, according to a report released Monday by the U.S. Health and Human Services inspector general's office.
Conditions in 19 of the homes failed to meet some standards, while 16 failed state record-keeping and supervision requirements. Ten providers had not properly completed criminal background checks for assistant caregivers, according to the report, which was obtained by The Associated Press.
In Michigan, unannounced inspections occur once a year for group childcare homes and at 10 percent of family childcare homes in each county every year. The Michigan Department of Human Services' Bureau of Children and Adult Licensing is responsible for onsite monitoring of licensed family care home providers.
"The (state's) licensing department does not often identify health and safety violations when they first occur or identify when a provider might need additional training," the report said. "Therefore, some health and safety violations may exist several years before a state licensing inspector discovers a problem that places children at risk."
Officials with the inspector general's office accompanied state licensing consultants from June 13, 2013 to Aug. 6, 2013 during unannounced inspections of the 20 day cares.
The review noted some day cares:
- had blocked pathways or inadequate fire escape exits
- had inoperable smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- had exposed nails in wooden fences
- had unsecured swimming pools near play areas and play areas with dog feces in them
- had chemicals labeled "flammable" stored near a furnace and water heater
- had pet food on a kitchen cutting board that also was used to cut an apple for children
The state has reviewed the findings, which are similar to what licensing inspectors find during home visits, said Bob Wheaton, a state Human Services spokesman.
"The state is concerned about the violations found in these homes," Wheaton told The AP.
Wheaton said that state licensing workers spotted the violations during the 20 inspections and issued citations.
The day care providers were ordered to correct the violations. One home day care later had its licensed revoked after at least one complaint prompted a subsequent special investigation.
"The inspectors did their jobs," Wheaton said.
Similar reviews have been conducted in other states to determine if day care providers receiving money through a federal fund that helps parents pay childcare costs are meeting health and safety requirements.
The Child Care and Development Fund is designed for low-income families, families receiving temporary public assistance and those transitioning from public assistance to obtain childcare so they can work, receive training or go to school.
About $5.2 billion was in the fund in fiscal year 2012. Nearly 2,600 providers in Michigan received money from the fund. The AP could not immediately determine how much Michigan receives from the fund.
Michigan has 70 licensing inspectors for just over 3,900 home day cares and more than 2,000 child care group homes.
More training for inspections staff and reducing their caseloads by hiring more inspectors are among the report's recommendations.
The state is looking into increasing training for staff and home day care providers, according to Wheaton.
"We feel like we do have enough staffing," he added. "We are analyzing whether our staff is being used as efficiently as possible and if resources are devoted to the areas that provide the greatest protection to the health and safety of the children."