How many times have you been issued a violation from your DCLR that seemed like such a tedious violation, yet you have to offer corrections within a certain timeframe??
Perhaps it is something as simple as a staff member leaving their coat on the cots or a violation for not having the correct supplies in your first-aid kit.
When a rep issues a violation for these minor infractions, he or she documents them in the monitoring report for the visit, and you are issued a date to have a correction in place for each listed violation. These violations are also listed on your report on the Sunshine website for the public to view.
Although these might seem like “minor violations,” they can often lead to major inconveniences for directors and owners. The time directors and owners have to spend correcting these violations is time spent away from the important day-to-day operations of their programs. There is often times a financial burden tied to these corrections, too, if it involves training staff in some way and taking time out of the work day to complete this.
And of course the biggest inconvenience of these minor violations is that they can often mislead the public about your program. If a parent looks at the Sunshine website and sees that a program has a lot of violations listed, they might not enroll in your program. But the parent is probably not aware of the 407 and do not know these are all truly for tedious items.
Yet, we all complete the corrections with no fight because of the fear of arguing against a minor violation possibly leading to a more major violation. There is an unwritten rule in this field that everyone just appeases DCFS in order to get them out of our lives that much faster. The sooner you correct the violation, the sooner your rep goes away and you do not need to deal with them for another year.
But no other industry is treated this way. When a patient goes in for brain surgery, there is no report at the end of all the violations that were made by the doctor for public view.
Have we truly saved children from abuse/neglect by writing up a program for a coat sitting on a cot? What would be the implications if we wrote up our staff for every tiny infraction like this? They would leave the field and never return!
The question has always come down to what the goal of DCFS really is: is it to “oversee by checklist” or actually partner for the good of childcare centers? We both want the same things – for children to be safe, healthy, and well taken care of.
So instead of issuing minor violations that turn into major inconveniences for directors and owners, our reps should work with us, communicate with us, and partner with us to do better. Talk to us and our staff while visiting our programs and offer guidance on how we can improve. Absolutely, write up major violations. That’s fair. But just verbally work with us on minor violations.
Everyday is a struggle, everyday is battle. But we cannot give in! Push back when it is appropriate to push back – request a supervisory review, stay connected, and get involved with what we are doing to help programs across the state!