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Digging deeper into day care inspections in Palm Beach County

Posted at 7:38 PM, Feb 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-18 22:47:40-05

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay is reacting to a Contact 5 investigation, which uncovered many day cares in the county are not up-to-date on inspections.

“It’s concerning,” McKinlay said. “I have full faith in Dr. Alonso and the work she’s doing at the health department. I know she is seeking additional positions, but those positions ultimately have to be authorized by the Legislature through the state health department’s budget.”

The Palm Beach County Health Department tells WPTV 39 percent of the 430 licensed child care facilities in the county did not receive the required two annual inspections in both 2019 and 2018.

“I would say to any parent that is looking for a day care or that has their child in day care, knowing this information you all uncovered, ask those questions of your day care provider and call the health department,” McKinlay said.

Jim and Melissa Franklin have a 2-year-old daughter, Lilly. They found her day care in Palm Beach Gardens went more than a year without being inspected.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Contact 5 Investigations

“To look and drop our children off and realize it’s not being inspected and it’s not being checked properly then where are we taking our children?” said Melissa Franklin.

The couple sent an email to the health department questioning why Lilly’s day care was not inspected as often as required. They were told, “due to a severe staff shortage we have been unable to meet this frequency.”

The health department tells WPTV it has 10 inspectors, five vacant inspector positions and “The Department is taking aggressive steps in recruitment to address the associated challenges.”

McKinlay said she would like to see the Legislature authorize and fund the correct number of positions.

“To make sure all of the requirements that the Department of Health has are fully funded and fully staffed so that these county health departments can do their job adequately,” McKinlay said.

WPTV has reached out to several lawmakers to get more information about funding the health department and the lack of inspections.