ALBANY New York
State will be able to close day care centers immediately for inadequate staffing and other safety and health violations under executive action announced Tuesday.
The initiative announced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo specifies when the state can take quick action on the state’s 21,000 child care programs, instead of having to wait for proof of imminent danger under the previous standard.
Cuomo issued the directive under the state’s emergency regulations, which means it is effective immediately. Under emergency regulations, the public comment period to consider new government action is waived.
The issue represented the latest political flashpoint between Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Cuomo’s action comes after de Blasio opposed a measure late in the state legislative session that ended in June. The bill would have given the state more authority to act quickly on day care center violations including those in New York City, which already regulates the centers.
“The proposed legislation provided no solutions for what happens to kids after a facility is unilaterally shut down,” said de Blasio administration spokeswoman Aja Worthy-Davis. “Based on our initial review, the reforms in the emergency regulations duplicate child-protection measures already in place in New York City.”
New York City inspects child care facilities twice a year, while the state requires annual inspections. The city also has a unit to root out illegal child care centers.
“We commend the state on meeting New York City’s strict standards in oversight of state day care centers,” Worthy-Davis said. “This isn’t about politics, it’s about protecting kids — and we look forward to working with state on reforms that can effectively do that.”
The new regulations will allow the state to suspend, limit or revoke a child care provider’s license for having too few staff members; failing to get appropriate medical attention for a child; blocking exits; corporal punishment; poor sanitary conditions and refusing to cooperate with inspectors, according to Cuomo’s office. Fines of up to $500 a day are authorized.
On Tuesday, Cuomo said the Democrat-led Assembly blocked a bill that would have done much of what is contained in his executive action, even though it was passed unanimously in the Republican-led Senate.
“At the 11th hour it was killed in the New York State Assembly,” Cuomo told reporters, not mentioning de Blasio. “I am not going to allow children to be abused because of political reasons.”
In 2015, de Blasio created the Child Care Connect website that used email and texting to inform parents of the inspection reports of their child care center.