Provide data to parents

Choosing a day care for their child is one of the most serious decisions parents can make. In California, parents make this decision without knowing if the place where they are leaving their children has mistreated kids in the past.

That is because California is one of the few states that do not have online—and available to the public—records with data about inspections and complaints regarding almost 48,000 day cares, preschools and after-school programs. And it is not interested in having it.

The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) published an article yesterday, revealing that, according to state authorities, it would cost more than $20,000 and take over two years to collect this information and provide it to the CIR, so the center can put it online. Not to even mention the idea of having state authorities themselves be the ones responsible for managing and providing access to that information.

It is unacceptable that California, the state that receives the most federal funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the only one of the country’s four largest states that does not provide this information online. Our state is also one of the few that does not conduct surprise inspections of day care centers.

California cannot and should not ignore the concerns of parents. Much less should it protect day cares that have poor track records with a convoluted system that lets them hide from consumer scrutiny.

The fact that California, with all its technology, is unable to be on a par with other states, reflects the little importance placed on regulating day care centers, the little value given to the safety of children in day care and the disregard for parents’ concerns in ensuring that their children are not in danger.

If as they claim, the safety of children is a priority, it is indispensable for authorities to give parents the tools they need to make the right decisions.