The Florida Office of Early Learning (State lead agency) or counties did not always ensure that providers that received funding from the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) complied with State requirements related to the health and safety of children. Specifically, of the 20 providers we selected for review, 15 did not comply with 1 or more of the physical conditions requirements; 11 did not comply with child record requirements; 4 did not comply with staff documentation requirements; and 4 were not available during operating hours to complete our unannounced inspection, which prevented us from assessing the physical conditions and children’s records within these providers related to the health and safety of children in their care.

Although the State licensing agency and counties conducted the required inspections, the instances of noncompliance occurred because the State laws and regulations allowed only for minimal oversight by the State licensing agency. The State licensing agency’s inspections of licensed providers occurred twice a year; they were scheduled within a 45-day window and may have been somewhat predictable. Registered providers were not inspected at all and were only required to register annually. The State licensing agency did not ensure that all providers that received CCDF funds met the initial screening and rescreening documentation requirements along with staffing requirements. As a result, the health and safety of children in these CCDF-funded providers may have been at risk.

We recommended that the State lead agency work with the State licensing agency and counties to ensure that (1) the specific health and safety issues noted in this report are corrected, (2) the program complies with Federal health and safety requirements for CCDF providers, (3) the timing of provider inspections is less predictable, (4) an annual inspection of registered providers is conducted in accordance with the new Child Care and Development Block Grant Act requirements, (5) licensed providers comply with background screening or rescreening requirements along with staffing requirements, and (6) required documentation is included in the children’s records.

The State licensing agency that did not explicitly concur or nonconcur with our recommendations. Instead, it requested information about which providers were associated with the health and safety issues we identified so that it could ensure that findings have been corrected. The State licensing agency also noted that it would continue to require providers to adhere to health and safety requirements and continue to emphasize the importance of operators being proactive in their efforts to maintain compliance with licensing standards at all times.

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