ABC2 Investigators examined almost 7,000 daycare inspections of Baltimore city and four surrounding counties from the last 18 months.
There are more than 10,000 child care facilities in Maryland., and some of them are falling down on the job.
There are centers cited for everything from leaving potential hazards out in the open to unsecured facilities.
We even found some subjecting kids to abuse and injury.
ABC2 Investigators got the reports from the Maryland Department of Education’s office of child care.
The Department of Education sends inspectors in to make sure providers are meeting dozens of regulations that oversee everything from training to how kids are monitored while they sleep.
Within those reports, ABC2 news found facilities written up 762 times for the storage and accessibility of potentially hazardous items. That includes things like sharp objects, cleaners, even alcohol.
496 inspections turned up general cleanliness violations.
We also discovered 125 child supervision issues, 43 violations for security and even 14 facilities listed as non-compliant because inspectors didn't find a lead-safe environment.
Liz Kelley, from the Maryland Department of Education says, “When [inspectors] look at that, it’s a snapshot in time. It was one day or one indication.”
Under her watch, child care information is available online . You can look up any daycare in the state and you’ll see when they were last inspected and whether they broke any rules on their required yearly inspections.
“That’s why we have regulations," she says. "They all have purposes. There would certainly be some that would be considered of higher importance, certainly anything to do with child protection.”
Specialists look for cases of abuse, neglect or injury. They rarely happen. In the 7,000 records we examined, only two popped up in the last 18 months.
In Baltimore County, a daycare in Randallstown was cited in June 2011 after a state report says the caregiver told a young boy he couldn’t have snack because of his behavior.
The owner didn’t respond to calls or e-mail.
The another case that happened in West Baltimore, a daycare operator was cited in 2011 for reportedly hitting an 8-year-old on the arm. The woman who runs the facility told us she didn’t want to talk.
The report states her husband also called the child a derogatory term because he was crying.
Those are clear-cut violations in the state.
Critics say other citations have shades of grey.
Richard Huffman owns Celebree, the largest private provider of pre-school in Maryland.
He says his company not only meets state standards; it exceeds them.
Within his 20 centers, he says even they get a check in the box every now and then.
But he says the state's online system could leave parents thinking the violations are far worse than they seem, because you don't get details.
A drop of jelly on the floor or a napkin by the trash can gets labeled as an overall cleanliness issue.
“They’re leaving it up to the parent to investigate further, and we know most parents won’t dig that deep," Huffman says. "They won’t actually pick-up the phone and talk about the violations or tell me about that violation.”
He wants the state to release more information, so you get the whole story instead of the CliffsNotes.
But, the state says some information has to stay off the web, in part because the detailed reports contain confidential information like children's names.
Partly, it’s a legal problem. Even though you can see whether a day care has violations for keeping its records up -to-date or approved lighting, centers that are actively going through serious discipline like a suspension or revocation simply aren't posted in public view.
Kelley says the state doesn't have to go through that process often. Since the start of 2011, they've revoked just 185 licenses out of thousands of facilities.
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