Home Daycare Facilities Come Under Scrutiny

Houston councilmembers are poised to approve a new requirement for daycare facilities in the city. The ordinance on tomorrow's agenda calls for annual fire marshall inspections in child-care homes. Laurie Johnson reports.

The new rule is in response to the fire at a home daycare facility in February that killed four toddlers.

Councilmember Sue Lovell says she was surprised by the lack of regulatory oversight in such facilities, which is why
she drove the effort to create annual safety inspections.

"I was...I was incredible shocked that you would first just certify somebody to have one of these facilities and then never require any kind of inspection. So now it will require a yearly inspection of the fire marshall."

Lovell says licensed child-care homes will have to pay a $100 inspection fee. If they don't pass, they'll have an opportunity to reapply. If they still don't pass, the city will be able to shut down the facility.

"The importance of this is that there is some oversight and there is another set of eyes coming in and looking at the facility, which was lacking before. This is not the answer to the whole problem, but it's certainly a good step forward into resolving some of the issues."

The fire marshall inspections will be required every year. Lovell says the council may later add more inspections such as building maintenance and infrastructure as well as child safety hazards.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...