Currently there are only about twelve or so day-care investigators on Long Island, whose responsibilities are to inspect and monitor all 1,659 providers caring for 35,319 preschool children in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. This number of investigators is insufficient, and has hindered the ability of these two counties to properly inspect the quality of day care in their areas.
These inspectors are called licensors or licensing representatives, who are civil servants and make a maximum of $44,739 this year. For an individual to be able to become an inspector of child care in the state of New York, the requirements are at least six years of experience as an inspector of day-care or other children's programs or as a designer or reviewer of various social services programs, as well as some background in case management.
The requirements in New York appear to be much stiffer than those in many other states.
For example, California requires simply a college degree or six months experience with the state.
Top officials have stated that all over the state of New York investigators have been struggling with their work as a result of the recent surge in day-care providers. The state has said that licensors will arquire help in the very near future. The help will arrive in two forms: reinforcements and computers.
In New York State this year, the number of cases per licensor is at its lowest since five years ago. It has dropped from 165 to 156 cases per licensor. During the next year, the state of New York will commission eleven or so workers at the Suffolk Department of Social Services and the Child Care Council of Suffolk to, working under contract with the state, inspect day-care providers in the county. This is in an attemp to lighten the work loads of the licensors in Suffolk county. "It swells our ranks in terms of people who are out there actually doing inspections and are able to recommend an enforcement act," said Suzanne Zafonte Sennett, director of the state Bureau of Early Childhood Services. Nassau county has not yet voulenteered to participate because of doubts about the magnatudes of its potential positive effects.
This year, for the first time ever, the state began giving formal training to licensing representatives. Experts from the State University of New York have developed two new training tools for the investigators.
This past summer, the Long Island representatives went for their first ever formal training in day-care regulation, and have also in the past year obtained copies of a two volume manual of the state regulations, policy statements, state social services law and other guidelines to help investigators do their jobs more efficiently.
Suzanne Zafonte Sennett also said that by next February investigators will have the aid of a new laptop-based computer network called the Child Care Facility System. This system will allow investigators to track each provider's complete history that can be updated as necessary at a quite rapid rate and used by everyone working in the field of day-care regulation. The system will do away with the current abundance of stacks of paper and manila folders that are the core of the state's system now, and will allow investigators to do their jobs quicker and with more efficiency.
She said the plan is "basically, get rid of the paper and put the entire licensing inspection process and the monitoring process online through a better automated support." The intense desire to improve the regulation of day-care recently has shown greatly. The percentage of child care complaints that were substantiated in the past five years is at its lowest, with drastic drops from 35% on Long Island to 19%, and 35% in New York State to 23%. If the current interest in improving the regulation of child care in the state of New York continues, the inspectors jobs will become less stressful, and child care will improve substantially and with great impact.