How taxpayers fund troubled Ga. daycares

Could the state do more to protect our tax dollars, and most importantly, our children?

ATLANTA - Daycares in Georgia get millions of dollars in taxpayer money to care for the state's vulnerable children. An 11Alive investigation found some of those daycares have been cited hundreds of times over the past three years for breaking the rules. 

These violations can put Georgia's children at risk.

11Alive is holding the powerful accountable.

Parents report mystery injuries sustained at daycares that are sending children to the hospital. 11Alive Investigative reporter Andy Pierrotti dug into the data to find out how much taxpayer funding these daycares with histories of abuse are receiving.

The investigation uncovered 40 Georgia daycares cited 100 or more times in three years. At the time, the state had revoked just four of those daycares’ taxpayer funding. The "top 40" offenders were cited more than 5,000 times and received more than $19 million in taxpayer dollars over the past three years.

The Department of Early Care and Learning, or DECL, is the state agency responsible for regulating and inspecting childcare providers. Commissioner Amy Jacobs said they perform drop-in inspections twice a year to make sure daycares are following the rules.

“In Georgia, we have over 450 licensing rules and they have levels of severity," DECL Commissioner Amy Jacobs, said. "So, there will be citations in childcare because it’s hard to meet 450 rules perfectly when we come in unannounced.” 

The most egregious case centers around an Atlanta daycare cited 276 times. Among the violations, state investigators found glass in the playground and no supervision in a room full of children.

Jacobs said revocation is an option but they try to work with the childcare providers. She said taking CAPS funding away, without allowing a facility to correct problems first, can disrupt a family if they don’t have other options.  

“Health and safety are our number one priority at DECL, especially for those children that are in childcare programs. But, what we want to do is work with programs as much as possible for them correct. If they don’t correct, we can do a revocation,” Jacobs said. 

Through an open records request, 11Alive received the total number of violations each childcare provider in the state has received from 2013 to 2016. 

When daycare facilities receive citations, an investigation is launched and the daycare has the opportunity to appeal. With citations, daycares run the risk of losing their licenses.

To get specific details about the citations a daycare received, the state of Georgia has a database where parents can download the inspection reports. These reports detail observations made during inspections and details about violations.

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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