City Comptroller Scott Stringer called for “bold action” Wednesday when he released a study on child care in homeless shelters, and what his office calls “a failure to ensure that child care workers undergo criminal background checks or enforce basic health and safety standards.”
Stringer said city shelters are not beholden to the same health and safety regulations as child care facilities outside of shelters.
“We need bold action today to give homeless families a chance to break this devastating cycle tomorrow,” he said. “That we have such extraordinary regulatory loopholes should alarm all of us. We need to fix it—and we need to fix it now.”
Stringer’s office released an audit in December that the office said showed “serious safety, security and health issues at shelters for families with children, leading to an unprecedented response by the Department of Homeless Services to address the findings.”
The findings released today on the shelters examined by Stringer's office found:
- 82 percent of child care workers in the shelters had not been screened for either criminal convictions or records of child abuse;
- 49 percent of the child care employees did not have valid training in child abuse and maltreatment identification, reporting and prevention;
- 41 percent of the shelters had no fire sprinklers;
- 18 percent had no fire extinguishers;
- 9 percent of the designated emergency exit doors were locked from the inside at the time of inspection and were not equipped with an emergency push bar;
- 30 percent of the shelter-based child care centers had insufficient outdoor space and 20 percent lacked an outdoor play area.
“This investigation reveals that New York City has created two standards of care—an inferior system for homeless children and one for everyone else,” Stringer said. “We found a lack of oversight in shelters that we inspected, as well as conditions that would give any parent nightmares—and that is not acceptable.
"There should be one health and safety standard for all child care facilities in New York City, regardless of where their children go to sleep at night.”
To read the full report and see Stringer's recommendations to the city, click here.