Daycare Citations & how to think about them

Hello - we are looking to put our infant in a daycare and have started research on the limited number of facilities that have availability.  All of them seem to have Type B and some seem to have Type A citations on the CDSS database. Any thoughts on how many is too many? Or Type B is ok but not Type A? Or it’s ok as long as they keep fixing the issues? A bit confused because we need the care but seems like no facility has a perfect record. We have a full time nanny but we are not open to a share which is something she wants/a lot of nannies seem to want. Appreciate the advice! 

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Speaking from personal experience at the three daycares I've had my kids at that have each had at least one citation, the citations are confusing and not a good guide. I have seen daycares receive citations erroneously that they cannot get expunged (Type A for not having a teacher with a background check when licensing just misfiled or lost the background check), I have seen some citations that seemed like a fluke/ not indicative of overall care (Type A - teacher left a classroom unattended to use the restroom for about 1 minute and forgot there was a child sleeping), and some citations that I felt were totally indicative of issues going on at the facility (hot tea spilled on an infant, a teacher using her fake nails to stir a child's food - these were probably Type B but in my opinion very unsettling). I would go more on what you can glean about the daycares from other parents and reviews, and your general impression when you tour. Send me a message if you want to connect and I may have some insight into places you are considering.

I can't speak directly to daycare facilities, but I work in senior care which is also CDSS licensed. Type A citations mean that there was a serious violation/safety issue substantiated and that should be weighted fairly heavily. Type B citations are more minor infractions and are more common. What I would look at is if there is a pattern of similar Type B citations, indicating management hasn't really adjusted course despite being cited. Any facility should be willing to talk about their citations and what was done to remedy them. You may find that some citations are older and there has been a change in management, but you won't know without asking the question.

This is subjective, of course, but I would consider a violation of any type to be a tip of the iceberg, given how overworked/understaffed the State is. If you have an infant and a nanny you like, you might want to reconsider the share option. We found it to be a really good way to ease into socialization when our first baby was an infant growing into toddler.

Read their record to see how serious the citation is. I'm the one at BPN who updates licensing information for the 1,050 daycares & preschools on the website, so I've read a lot of license records. All preschools & daycares on BPN have a link to their licensing record to make it easy for parents to research them. You can view citations from the last 3 years. There will be a report describing each citation - it can be a pain to read, but it's important to read it.  Many citations are mundane but some of them can be pretty scary. 

If any complaints have been filed you'll see those too.  Most citations are given not because of a complaint, but rather during a random unannounced visit. Random visits are supposed to happen every year, but it's not consistent. When someone files a complaint, though, an in-person visit is required, which is why it's important for parents to file a complaint if there is a serious problem. The state will investigate and determine whether the complaint is substantiated.

I looked at all the facilities in Albany & El Cerrito to see how common citations are (full report here.) The good news is that a majority did not have any citations or complaints.

Type B citations are usually administrative. Around 45% of the daycares/preschools I reviewed had Type B citations.. Examples: Not all the children were included on the daycare's roster;  Immunization records were incomplete; They didn't hold a fire drill every 6 months. More than one Type B citation, while not serious, could point to an owner who is disorganized and/or inattentive.  OTOH a facility that has no Type B citations is more likely to be well-run, especially if it's a large preschool where many things can go wrong. There are a lot of requirements the state is checking, so a preschool/daycare that hasn't been cited during the past 3 years is probably doing a good job staying on top of everything.

Type A is more serious. About 20% of daycares and preschools I reviewed had a Type A citation. If your daycare/preschool has one, it's important to read the report carefully so you understand why they got it. Ask the owner if it's not clear. Did they get more than one, or get them on multiple occasions? That should be a red flag. Example:  At a small daycare, at an unannounced visit, just one adult was taking care of 7 infants (the max is 4), and some of them were sleeping in a closed-off room where they couldn't be observed. This daycare was cited for having too many infants on more than one visit. 

Complaints:  These are less common (16%) and I would pay attention if there is one.  It's a hassle for a parent to file a complaint, especially if they've already left for another preschool/daycare.  So if there is one complaint, you can probably assume there were other parents who were unhappy too but didn't go to the trouble to make an official complaint. Read the complaint report, and ask the owner if you have questions. Complaints I've read include: Children being injured but parents not notified (the state is also supposed to be notified); Children left to cry for extended periods; Children being restrained; Programs continuing to operate despite flooding or no power. 

Over the years we've seen parents post glowing reviews of preschools that had serious citations. So do your own research and check their license records!