Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that he is advancing legislation to bring more aggressive enforcement tools, tougher penalties and greater transparency to the oversight of child care programs throughout the state. The bill will also create more consistent legal enforcement standards for state- and New York City-regulated programs and improve parents' access to child care centers' compliance and violation histories.
"Parents deserve to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that their child care providers are responsible and that their children are in good hands," said Governor Cuomo. "These reforms will help ensure that every child care program in this state is held accountable to the highest standards of safety, and with tougher laws we will be better able to crack down on bad actors. These are common sense measures that will make a difference across the state, and I urge the legislature to pass them this session."
Under the Governor's proposed legislation, penalties for state-regulated child care providers cited for serious violations and for providers operating illegally would be increased. The maximum fine for serious violations would increase from $500 to $5,000 a day. Enforcement standards for state- and New York City-regulated child care programs will also be better aligned, enabling the state to take more immediate enforcement action. New York City-regulated child care programs will be required to prominently post inspection reports and violation histories, as state-regulated programs already do.
Additionally, the state would be able to suspend or revoke a center’s license for a wider range of violations, including inadequate supervision, failure to maintain proper staff-to-child ratios and failure to cooperate with an inspection, as well as the injury or death of a child, or the use of corporal punishment against a child. The suspension or revocation of an operator's license at one location will trigger an immediate examination of all of the operator’s other state-regulated programs and an evaluation of potential enforcement action against them. The moratorium on child care providers applying for a new license after revocation will be extended from two years to five years.
The legislation will also provide parents with the data they need to make informed choices about their child's care by improving access to compliance and violation histories through the launch of a statewide registry. Access to information is a key element in transforming the child care system and sending a strong warning to providers who would jeopardize the safety of New York's children.
New York State Office of Children and Family Services Acting Commissioner Sheila J. Poole said, "Passage of this legislation will serve to strengthen NYS's position as having one of the most stringent and comprehensive oversight systems of inspection and enforcement in the country."
There are 11,000 child care programs in New York City, including approximately 9,000 Family Day Care, Group Family Day Care and School-Age Child Care programs that the Office of Children and Family Services oversees, and some 2,000 Child Care Centers that are regulated by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
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