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"Our number one mission is making sure that children are in a safe and nurturing environment," DSS Secretary Kristy Nichols said. "With the reforms recently passed by the legislature giving DSS more control over licensing these types of facilities, we will take every action possible to make sure that facilities such as this one with repeated violations are held accountable for their actions."
Child care regulations specifically address the 4 steps of documentation that child care centers must take to help make sure incidents like this are avoided. Centers must document and log the time when a child is picked up, when they arrive at the child care center, when they enter the child care facility and that a visual inspection of the vehicle has been done by a worker to ensure that all children are out of the vehicle.
On May 15 of this year, the Department of Children & Family Services cited Wanda's Kid World with 2 deficiencies, including failure to provide adequate staff-to-child ratio when transporting children under 5 years of age.
That deficiency was cleared by DSS on June 23 based on a review of travel logs that were presented showing proper ratios were met. During that review, Wanda's Kid World was also cited for 4 additional deficiencies, such as improper supervision and harmful substances not being properly secured.
Just this morning our staff met with Wanda's Kid World on a consultation to review the recently found deficiencies and to help staff develop a corrective plan of action to clear those deficiencies.
Wanda's Kid World was first licensed by DSS in September 1987, and had 18 children in their care as of the last inspection in June 2009. Their license has been revoked twice in the past - once in 2006 and again in January 2009 after a number of deficiencies were cited in December 2008, including failure to provide adequate staff to child ratio when transporting children under 5 years of age. They were relicensed by DSS on February 13 of this year after all deficiencies had been cleared and new administrative staff had been hired.
Reforms have been initiated by DSS that will strengthen enforcement of licensing issues. First, with the signing of SB 238 yesterday and the abolishment of the Louisiana Advisory Committee on Licensing of Child Care Facilities and Child Placing Agencies, DSS now has the sole authority to revoke or license child care facilities immediately. Prior to yesterday, DSS could not deny a child care license without first bringing the recommendation to the now abolished committee for approval.
DSS is also in the process of revising child care regulations, including the use of tools and sanctions in enforcing the standards, as well as the possible implementation of a rule that would prevent centers from being relicensed for a minimum of 12 months after a license has been revoked.