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Puerto Rico Childcare Home Providers Did Not Always Comply With Commonwealth Health and Safety Requirements

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The Puerto Rico Department of the Family (State agency) did not ensure that providers that received funds from the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) complied with Administration for Integral Child Care and Development (lead agency) requirements related to the health and safety of children. We found that all 20 providers that we reviewed did not always comply with lead agency requirements to ensure the health and safety of children. Specifically, we found potentially hazardous conditions at 19 of the 20 providers, and 11 of the providers did not comply with requirements to obtain background checks on household members and employees.

Although the lead agency retains overall responsibility for ensuring that providers meet health and safety requirements, it required municipalities to use their own inspectors to conduct health and safety inspections on the 14 municipally operated network providers that we reviewed. In addition, the lead agency did not perform any random inspections of these 14 providers during fiscal years 2013 and 2014. Also, the lead agency did not inspect any of the six voucher-funded providers that we reviewed because the lead agency had not established procedures for monitoring these provider types.

To improve its health and safety monitoring, we recommended that the State agency (1) update its CCDF State Plan to more accurately describe the lead agency's childcare home types and requirements; (2) establish binding health and safety requirements for all CCDF providers in Puerto Rico law or regulation; (3) have procedures in place to ensure that providers receive adequate training on health and safety requirements; (4) develop a single comprehensive and specific checklist to aid in its monitoring of providers for compliance with health and safety requirements, and provide the childcare homes with the checklist; (5) correct the specific health and safety issues with the 20 providers noted in this report; (6) establish policies and procedures to ensure that onsite inspections are performed at all providers at least annually; (7) ensure that all providers comply with requirements for obtaining background checks on providers, household members, and employees; and (8) establish requirements in Puerto Rico law or regulation for all household members to obtain a certification that they are not in Puerto Rico's registry of persons convicted of sex crimes and child abuse. The State agency concurred with our findings and described actions it had taken and planned to take to address our recommendations.

Filed under: Administration for Children and Families