NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Two lawmakers are calling for a letter grading system for New York City day care centers.
State Sens. Jeff Klein of the Bronx and Diane Savino of Brooklyn released an investigative report Thursday, identifying day care centers with persistent and dangerous health code violations.
The report found “many day care centers rack up chronic violations and some even lie to parents when asked about their records,” Klein said.
The top violator over the past two years is Brightside Academy in the Bronx, with 77 violations and 11 public health hazards, according to the report.
Magic Kingdom in Brooklyn came in second with 67 violations and 21 public health hazards; followed by 196 Albany Avenue Day Care in Brooklyn, with 62 violations and 4 public health hazards.
“A parent cannot always tell by glancing at the colorful class projects at a day care center that there are hidden dangers lurking inside,” Klein said in a statement. “We want parents to know that the places where they leave their children all day are safe, clean and licensed.”
“When it comes to the safety and sanitation of day care centers, New York City parents are truly left in the dark,” Savino said in a statement. “While many locations have repeat critical violations, it has become increasingly difficult for parents to track down information about the security, staffing, and cleanliness of the center to which they are entrusting their most precious family members.”
The letter grading system they’re proposing would be similar to that in the restaurant industry.
“Letter-grading on restaurants communicates to the public in a very clear manner the track record of an eatery,” Klein said. “We wouldn’t eat at a restaurant with a poor-letter grade, would we leave a child in a place with a bad grade?”
Klein believes it would lead day care centers to clean up their acts.
“Transparency will not only provide parents peace of mind by having a letter grade system, I think it will improve the process,” Klein said. “I think no one is going to want to hang a ‘C’ outside their day care center and expect to get business.”
Lee Towndrow and his wife, Amber Scorah, support the proposal.
In July, the Manhattan couple’s 3-month-old son Karl died on his first day at a SoHo day care center that was recommended by friends and featured in a recognized publication. The center did not have a license or a required person trained in CPR on the premises, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported.
“The day care we used was in business for 14 years. There was an article in the New York Times about this day care and we have many friends who had gone to this day care,” said Scorah.
The boy’s death is under investigation.
“We investigated our day care very carefully and we found nowhere near the same level of transparency in terms of licensing or violations that exists for restaurants, for example,” Towndrow said. “It’s important that these day care centers be held to safety standards in an open way.”
The letter grade system would provide parents and guardians with an easy and accessible way to find out if a day care center is clean and safe.
“In regards to the health and safety of their child, parents should never have to cross their fingers and hope for the best, and with the proposal of this day care letter-grading system, they will no longer have to,” Savino said.
The mayor’s office and the City Council both said they would take a look at the proposal, but pointed out that information on day care inspections can be found online, CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported.
You can access records and even receive a text message alert when your chosen center is re-inspected.
The Department of Health said it will review the proposal.
“There’s nothing more important than the safety of our children,” the department said in a statement. “We have a robust inspection process in place, with publicly accessible resources on specific daycare sites for parents. ”