Pandemic Has Changed How Child Care Inspections Are Conducted in South Florida

Liliana Quintero, the owner and director of a child care facility in Fort Lauderdale, tells NBC 6 the pandemic has changed their day-to-day operations

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The coronavirus has changed most aspects of our lives, including child care.

Many facilities have been forced to make changes in order to keep their doors open and keep children safe.

Liliana Quintero, the owner and director of a child care facility in Fort Lauderdale, tells NBC 6 the pandemic has changed their day-to-day operations. 

“I used to have an open door policy, so my parents would come in and grab the child from the classroom. I can’t have that anymore,” she said.

Quintero says she has implemented stricter cleaning protocols, a mask policy for children over two years old, and a maximum number of nine children per classroom. 

“When the child comes into the classroom, we take (their) temperatures, we sterilize their feet, they need to wash hands with soap, we count to 20. It’s a process,” Quintero said.

But as safety recommendations ramped up, NBC 6 Responds found how inspections of child care facilities in Broward and Miami-Dade counties are done has changed due to the pandemic.

In Miami-Dade, inspections are conducted by the Florida’s Department of Children and Families. In an email,  a department’s spokesperson told us: “Routine inspections, in which child care standards are reviewed, may be conducted telephonically or via other video calling technology. Renewals must be conducted on site, and they are done so in accordance with guidance from the CDC.“

In Broward, inspections of these facilities are conducted by the county’s Child Care Licensing and Enforcement Department.

The department says virtual inspections started early in the pandemic. 

“We feel it was a strong measure to take initially for the first couple of months,” said the department’s supervisor, William Karp. 

Karp says about 20% of the county's facilities were open in April. He says roughly 75% of the facilities are now open. 

He says the county started in-person hybrid inspections on Aug. 1. 

“We have now come up with a hybrid model, where we are conducting the paperwork process remotely, but we are back in the field again and we are doing inspections on site for the items that can only be conducted in-person,” Karp said.

According to data provided by the county, a total of 134 staff and 94 children from child care facilities in Broward have tested positive for COVID-19 as of Aug. 11.

Karp says those numbers involved 139 facilities in the county.

Child care providers are required to report confirmed cases of the coronavirus to the county and the Florida Department of Health. 

According to Karp, the state’s health department will advise the facility on recommendations for further actions like following CDC guidelines for disinfecting and sanitizing the impacted room or rooms.

Karp says it is typically recommended for the facility to close for two weeks from the last day the individual was on site. 

However, at this time, the county is not requiring facilities to close after reporting a COVID-19 case.

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