MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

November 4, 2013

DHS disputes federal report on day care homes

It says allegation that state doesn’t order background checks on janitors is incorrect

TULSA (AP) — Oklahoma’s chief social services agency is disputing a federal report to be released Tuesday that alleges that the state doesn’t require day care providers to conduct background checks on janitors.

The 37-page report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General found that Oklahoma was among 18 states that didn’t require a check on janitorial staff.

The report was commissioned because roughly 1.6 million kids use federal subsidies to attend a child care program at about 500,000 centers and home providers in the U.S. For states to be eligible to receive federal funds, each must certify that it has licensing requirements for child care services that are designed to protect the health and safety of children being cared for by those who provide the services. States must also have procedures to ensure that providers comply with health and safety requirements.

The federal report found that Oklahoma conducts background checks on day care owners, directors, facility staff and drivers.

The only category left unchecked was janitorial staff, which Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services said Monday should have been marked because state law requires such checks of all janitorial staff.

Mark Beutler, communications manager for the state agency, said staff was reaching out Monday to the federal investigators to have the report corrected and couldn’t say where or how the breakdown between the federal and state agencies took place.

“Oklahoma statutes are very clear: All day care employees are required to have a background check,” Beutler said. “The box should have been checked where it mentions janitors.”

“This misinformation is upsetting,” he said in an interview Monday.

The federal report also found that all 50 states had requirements in place to protect the health and safety of children served by licensed day care providers in three areas: prevention and control of infectious disease, building safety and minimum health and safety training.

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