DHS puts daycare info online

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has a new tool for parents to keep track of how their children are being cared for.  It's a website designed to track DHS child care providers and it's just part of the changes DHS is making in child care oversight since the death of two year old Joshua Minton at a home day care in Tulsa.

The daycare that looked after Joshua had many violations that the child's family didn't know about.  Now, though, in just a few clicks, a parent can find day care providers in their town, the last time they were inspected and what they found.  And, although it sounds like a good idea, some think it's a bit vague.

In the past, parents had to go to the DHS office for background information.  Now, it's literally at their fingertips.  Daycare provider Corrie Certain has been in the business for over 17 years and thinks that the more information parents have access to, the better.  "Well, I think that would be a very good idea for the parents because so many things are happening today in the world," she said.

Kindercastle Director Marie Ruiz says a website showing the last monitoring visits and any "areas of non-compliance" is a great tool for people trying to find great quality daycare for their kids.  "We're always into trying to help parents pick the best facility whether it's ourselves or another facility," she said.

But, not everyone agrees.  Kae Dee Daycare Director Daniele Esquer says it's all very one sided; it shows when providers have non-compliances, but not the specific charge.  She says that without this extra information potential customers could be scared off without fully understanding the scope or background of the violation.  For instance, her daycare had a mark against it for leaving a plastic rake on the playground when the licensing rep came by.  "She had come by and she did have to write that down as a noncompliance and it was something that you could fix that fast," said Esquer.  Information like that would have appeared on the website as non-compliance - and it could be anything from a dangerous health hazard to not having enough paper towels that day.

Since the details of the violation don't show on the website, it may be difficult to make a decision based solely on that information.  "The main thing is just to make sure that you show up and you go in and see what's going on with your child.  Don't rely on a piece of paper or the internet to tell you whether or not a place is safe," said Esquer.  Most say the very best thing for parents or guardians to do is visit the daycare in person and see for yourself what goes on there.  If you would like more information on the DHS child care locater visit okdhs.org.