Day Care Info Just Keystrokes Away

Tuesday, May 20th 2008, 10:33 pm
By: News On 6

A child's murder is inspiring day care reform.  One year after a Tulsa toddler is killed at day care, state lawmakers are taking action.  They want to toughen background checks for day care workers and give parents more information about day care inspections.  The News On 6's Ashli Sims reports some of that information is already online.

Joshua Minton's parents didn't find out that his day care had a history of complaints until after he was murdered.  Now, a new website and a new bill working its way through the state legislature could change that.

Joshua's was a case that gave many parents chills, especially those with children in day care.  Two-year- old Joshua Minton was murdered by home day care owner Vicki Chiles.

"It scared me to death. It puts a lot of fear into you about what could happen," said Shauna Meador.

Shauna Meador says working with Tulsa's Child Care Resource Center helped keep her fears for her four-year-old son at bay.

"It's a very daunting proposition because people have this new baby that they don't want to leave with just anyone," said Beth Sullins with the Child Care Resource Center.

Beth Sullins and her staff can help you find the right place, and lawmakers want to make sure you have the right information. 

The Oklahoma House of Representatives just passed House Bill 2643 to toughen background checks on child care workers and increase parents' access to Department of Human Services' records on child care facilities.

The bill isn't even law yet, but it's already prompted change.

You can now log onto Oklahoma's DHS website, click on the Oklahoma Child Care Locator, enter a day care name, and pull up its history.  The site lists recent DHS inspections, any violations, complaints and whether those claims were substantiated or not.

Shauna says a few keystrokes go a long way toward peace of mind.

"Check it every day, every week, every month.  As often as you feel like you need to check it," said Shauna Meador.

The folks at the Child Care Resource Center say just because a day care has a complaint that doesn't mean it's necessarily a bad place.

"Ask to see the complaint and what it was involving. If the director is not upfront with you about the complaint and you don't get the information you want that's another red flag," said Beth Sullins with the Child Care Resource Center.

The day care reform bill, HB 2643, heads to the Oklahoma Senate next.