Two recent incidents involving unlicensed child care - including the arrest of a Glendale day care operator on sexual-indecency charges - reinforce the importance of "doing your homework" when looking for a child care center.
"Selecting a safe, high-quality and caring facility may be one of the most important decisions parents will make in their child's lives," said Susan Gerard, Director of the Department of Health Services. "That's why it's important to make sure a child care center is licensed."
Last week, Glendale police arrested an unlicensed child care provider on public sexual indecency charges. At the time of the arrest, up to 20 children were being cared for at the home - in violation of state law. Police said the investigation involves three girls, all younger than 15.
In March, a 9-month-old who had stopped breathing at an unlicensed day care center in Phoenix was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. ADHS had revoked the license of the operator, Ursula Daniels, in 2007 after inspectors found, among other things, that she allowed marijuana to be used in her home while children were present. This year, Daniels admitted she had been smoking pot on the job, according to police, who are investigating the child's injuries.
There is no way to know how many unlicensed facilities operate in Arizona, but the state has made it easy for parents to check online at www.azcarecheck.com.
The web site allows parents to obtain a wealth of information about child care centers, including up to date information on inspections, and complaint investigations.
The Department's web site also offers several consumer tools, including a parents' child care checklist. That list and other information are available at www.azdhs.gov.
Arizona requires that child care centers make their licenses available for public viewing.
In addition, the state requires criminal background checks on all workers in licensed or certified child care centers. In addition to the licensing inspections by the Office of Child Care Licensing, centers are required to have fire, sanitation and safety inspections. Group homes are required to meet local zoning requirements.
Persons who care for five or more children for compensation must be certified in order to operate legally in Arizona. A person may care for four or fewer children, who are not their own, without being certified.
Parents also can call one of the Department's offices for further information:
Phoenix: (602) 364-2539 or Toll Free (800) 615-8555
Tucson: (520) 628-6540
Flagstaff: (928) 774-2707
Yuma: (520) 628-6541
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