California has finally started to catch up with most states (like Texas) by putting information from child care inspections online.
Last Friday, the Department of Social Services released a tool called the Community Care Licensing Division Facility Search. Underneath the rather unexciting name is a sea change for California parents. Up until now, there was no way for a parent to go online and find out what the state knows about their child's day care.
You may have never heard of California's Child Care Licensing Division, but that's the government office that regulates, licenses and inspects child care facilities. But the agency doesn't put any of its findings online. To actually see an inspection report, a parent would have to visit a field office.
In a collaboration between NBC Bay Area and the Center for Investigative Reporting(CIR), reporters noted that in 2006 the state auditor said "calling or visiting such a little-known office is too high a barrier for busy parents of young children."
This year, NBC Bay Area and CIR took it on themselves to collect and post publically available inspections reports for child care facilities in the Bay. Searchable documents for Napa and Santa Clara Counties are available now.
Now, five years of data is available via the state's website, but CIR points out that there's still a lot missing:
"Citations are divided into two categories: Type A, the most serious offenses, and Type B, violations that could become a threat to children if not corrected. The tool simply lists the number of infractions of each type, leaving it open to ambiguity. The difference can be significant: A Type A violation can encompass problems ranging from unchanged dirty diapers to access to firearms."