New online tool helps parents choose the best child care

Child care center website

There's a new online tool for child care centers. As of this month, Tennessee's Department of Human Services posts their daycare inspection results for parents and the public to see.

We talked to one child care provider Wednesday who thinks it's a great idea.

Prior to this month, anyone could go to the Department of Human Services website and check out child care centers in their area. You can see the star ratings the center receives, how many kids they can hold, and their hours of operation.

The new link on the website now shows specific violations the daycare centers were aware of, but parents weren't.

Shelia Loudermilk has owned Princeton Prep Preschool for the past 22 years. Every year, she gets about four unannounced visits from the Department of Human Services.

The inspections include checking on student to teacher ratios as well as a number of safety criteria. "We have a list of standards that we go by, as well as the developmentally-appropriate practice for the different ages of the children that are guidelines for us to use," she explained.

We watched as Shelia checked the new feature on the DHS website and found her childcare center. "So that's a full year's history there," she said, noting that there were no surprises. "Should there be any violations, we know about it right there on the spot."

Loudermilk told us there shouldn't be any surprises when it comes to picking out a child care center. "I think it's good for the parents. I think that will be a good tool for them to use when they're trying to select a child care center," she said. "That, along with the star ratings system, will give a good indicator the type of facility they're looking at."

We learned from spokesperson Devin Stone of the Tennessee Department of Human Services that reports of any violations discovered on an inspection must be recorded within five days of the visit. After that, the information is uploaded daily to the website.

Once it's there, even if it has been corrected, the violation stays on the permanent record indefinitely.

To use the site, visit tn.gov/accweb.

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