TAMPA, Fla. - Parents want to know if their current or potential daycare is safe, and online daycare reports are supposed to help keep an eye on facilities for their children.
But our I-Team has discovered that the reports in two Tampa Bay area counties are more than a year out of date.
“It's a one-way street, two lanes, pretty busy,” said Karla Bard, describing Armenia Avenue, the street that runs in front of the Tampa Humane Society medical clinic.
A 7-year-old girl with special needs darted across the road, ending up in the Humane Society lobby.
Bard ended up calling the police.
“Nobody was out there looking for her,” said Bard.
The child wandered away from West Tampa Early Learning Center, which was fined for the incident.
The report, which was issued in March 2013, is one of the most recent ones posted on the Hillsborough County Child Care licensing website.
Most of the reports for the county's 1,100 facilities are even older.
“We were told by DCF that they were going to develop this new software,” said Child Care Licensing Manager Mike Bross, who said that the county could no longer add inspection reports and complaints on the site after the state canceled a contract with its software vendor last year.
A new system to immediately put the reports online had not yet been developed.
“We went back to our old handwritten process,” said Bross.
So if you want to see any recent daycare records, you'll have to do it the old way...at the county daycare licensing office or at the facilities themselves.
The I-Team has learned the same is true in Pinellas County.
While the online system has been down, Little World of Learning in north Tampa was placed on probation.
A 2-year-old there was left in a crib after the staff locked up and went home.
“You always want to know what's going on where your child is, definitely,” said parent Jasmine Soto, who likes the center but didn’t know about the probationary status it was put on as a result of the incident.
“The most current information that's available should be made available to anyone who's looking to place their child in daycare,” said Michael Studenberg, who kept his grandson at the center even after hearing about the incident.
Allen Hagerty missed out on a report of employee drug use at the Kids Cub House in Lutz.
He said he would not have placed his child in the center if he had known about the incident.
Records show the owner instituted a new drug policy after the incident.
Hagerty says he should have been able to easily learn about it online.
“They should be kept up to date, so you know in real time what the issues are,” he said.
Weeks after the girl ran off from West Tampa Early Learning Center, more violations were reported, this time for failing to do background checks.
Because it happened after the state quit updating the system, you can't find out about the issue online.
Temporary workers at the Hillsborough County Child Care Licensing Office are busy now entering thousands of handwritten reports.
“Once they're on the computer, we have to send them to Tallahassee,” said Bross.
He says he’s been told that the state hopes to have the new reporting system with current data up and running by the middle of the summer.
The system has already been updated in many of the smaller counties where the state oversees the inspection process.
If you want to check out your daycare, go to visit http://dcfsanswrite.state.fl.us/Childcare/provider/
To check out the latest daycare reports in Hillsborough County, go to 3152 Clay Mangum Lane in Tampa. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. To contact the office by phone, call 813-264-3925.
For information regarding Pinellas County Child Care facilities call 727-507-4857. The file room is located at 8751 Ulmerton Rd., Suite 2000 in Largo. That office is also open Monday through 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.