IL, JULY 17, 1998 -- The Director of the Illinois Department of Children
and Family Services Friday announced a 12-point plan aimed at improving
safety in state licensed day care homes and centers, speeding the licensing
process for new applicants, and reducing the current backlog of facilities
awaiting renewal of licenses.
The plan, which includes a 52 percent increase in licensing staff and
the development of a new statewide complaint tracking system of licensed
day care homes and centers, responds to calls from the day care community
for faster licensing turnarounds, more frequent monitoring of existing
facilities, and enhanced qualifications for licensing representatives.
is important, but the safety of the estimated 250,000 children in
Illinois licensed facilities is paramount," said Director Jess
McDonald, noting that background check requirements for all day care
workers, as well as a dramatic increase in new licensing applications
from welfare recipients seeking a career in in-home child care, are
at least partly responsible for the recent backlog.
measures announced today will add more licensing staff, speed the
licensing process and improve monitoring of the 13,000 day care homes
and centers we currently license," said McDonald. "Service
quality will also improve through increased training for DCFS licensing
staff, better computer tracking of facilities that are up for renewal
and monitoring visits, easier public access to licensing information
about individual providers, and ongoing dialogue with day care advocates."
to operate a day care center or home must be obtained for any facility
caring for more than three children, and must be renewed every three
years. Annual monitoring visits ensure facility compliance with day
in the Departmentís day care licensing and monitoring system
of additional day care licensing staff, raising the staff total from
145 licensing staff in 1997 to 220 staff positions in 1998 -- a 52
percent increase. Twenty-six new licensing representatives, supervisors
and support staff positions were authorized last December, and another
49 positions were authorized this month.
positions are expected to be filled by September. The additional staffing
gives each licensing representative a manageable caseload of new licenses,
renewals, and investigations. All regions of the state will receive
new positions, with particular weight given to Cook County, home to
more large day care centers than any other area of the state.
qualifications for day care licensing representatives, with an emphasis
on early childhood education and experience. A revised applicant exam
is already in use. There will be a phase-in period of these qualifications
for existing licensing staff.
of the day care industry have agreed to work with DCFS to recruit
this month of a new automated statewide complaint tracking system.
In the first 10 months of 1997 alone, licensing staff investigated
1,495 complaints against licensed day care centers and homes, nearly
60 percent of which are substantiated.
next month of a new automated licensing caseload tickler system that
will notify supervisors and administrators each month about licenses
due to expire that month, as well as monitoring visits that need to
be conducted that month.
Some 3,695 day care licenses will expire in 1998. Currently, there
are 1,163 day care facilities in license renewal status (391 centers
and 772 day care homes). Another 1,642 applicants await approval of
initial licenses (305 centers and 1,337 homes).
and funding of a new Key Indicator System that streamlines the licensing
renewal process for well-functioning day care centers, allowing licensing
staff to focus more attention on centers needing more assistance to
come into compliance with licensing standards. This new system is
expected to be on-line by January 1999.
Issuance next month of a revised Licensing Handbook and Procedures
Manual. The handbook will serve as the basis for a new comprehensive
training program for DCFS and private agency day care licensing staff,
which will begin this Fall.
Establishment of an external "Center for Excellence" program,
that will provide orientation and mentoring to prospective licensees,
and ongoing technical assistance to day care homes and centers.
The stateís day care system is in need of technical assistance
to improve quality programming. Many new applicants need to understand
the fundamental health and safety requirements of running day care
facilities, while seasoned providers would benefit from ongoing professional
development to improve the quality of their programs.
of a new statewide, toll-free "Day Care Hotline," effective
January 1999, which will provide callers access to information regarding
the licensing status, history, and complaint record of any day care
facility. The 800 number will build on the stateís current Child
Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) system.
Expanding to three weeks the Departmentís current two-week core
training program for new workers, with a curriculum emphasis on early
childhood and child development.
Revision last January of the Departmentís Licensing Standards
for Day Care Centers, the first major revision since 1985.
The changes are based on five years of work with the Child Care and
Development Task Force, the State Advisory Committee on Day Care and
other groups, to improve the health and safety of children in state
licensed day care centers.
an agreement between the Department and the Day Care Action Council
of Illinois, regular meetings will be held over the next six months
to encourage input from the day care community on hiring, training,
and the above improvements.
In Illinois, there are more than 10,000 licensed day care homes and
3,100 licensed day care centers. The Department receives more than
2,000 day care inquiries per month.