As police continue their investigation into the death of a 7-month-old military child in a daycare home on a military installation in Hawaii, questions remain unanswered about the installation’s procedures for dealing with unlicensed daycare for children.
The Defense Department and the services have strict requirements for spouses who want to operate family child care homes on installations. The Army’s regulations are clear: If officials are notified about unlicensed daycare in military housing, Child Development Services officials visit the home within three working days. If it’s determined that the provider is in violation, she or he will be notified in writing within two days and told to cease operations.
The provider will also be notified that if they continue to provide child care without authorization, they could lose their housing privileges.
The daycare had been shut down multiple times, according to a neighbor who said she filed a complaint to officials.
But beyond that point, if the provider fails to either cease the daycare operation, or to start the process for becoming certified, the Child Development Services officials make their recommendation for action to the installation commander and the housing officials. It’s up those officials to determine next steps, such as potential eviction from housing.
The baby who died, named Abigail, was at a home on the Aliamanu Military Reservation when she died Feb. 24. Foul play is not suspected at this time and no charges have been filed, said Michelle Yu, spokeswoman for the Honolulu Police Department, on Feb. 28. The police report on the incident will not be released until the investigation is complete, she said, and that typically takes at least several weeks.
Citing the pending investigation into the baby’s death, military officials in Hawaii have declined to answer questions about whether the home where the child was staying was licensed and certified by the base to provide child care, whether it had been shut down previously, and whether it was continuing to operate without proper authorization.
But neighbor Katie Camario said she was told by base Family Child Care officials in December 2017 that the home was not certified to operate on the base as part of their program, when she first expressed her concerns about the welfare of the children staying there.
Camario, an Air Force wife, said she repeatedly expressed concern to officials about the well-being of children she saw outside the home, and said the home’s daycare operation was subsequently shut down three times by base officials because of alleged violations, the first time about three months after her initial report.
Camario and Army wife Kelly Norris, who also lives nearby, said there are other unlicensed daycare providers in their housing community on base. Camario said she and others are not placing blame on anyone.
A spokeswoman for Lendlease, the company that operates the privatized housing community at Aliamanu Military Reservation, said the ongoing investigation also precludes the company from commenting on questions related to their procedures and requirements for those providing daycare in their homes, and circumstances that would warrant eviction if the requirements weren’t met.
As part of the DoD and service requirements for spouses who want to operate family child care homes on installations, they must undergo stringent reviews and training on all aspects of keeping children safe, healthy and helping them thrive; undergo fire and safety inspections, and provide a learning curriculum tailored for the child’s age, for example. There are also limitations on the number of children that can be in the home.
Asked about procedures for dealing with unlicensed day care providers on Army installations, including those in privatized housing, Army officials pointed to long-standing Army regulations:
- Within three working days of being notified, Family Child Care management will visit the home to verify whether the person is operating a daycare without valid certification. If the individual refuses to allow FCC personnel to enter the house, they must contact the Provost Marshall.
- If the individual is providing more than 10 hours of day care a week on a regular basis, he or she will be given notice of the violation within two days, and told to cease providing daycare immediately.
- Those living in government housing will be advised that they may lose their housing privileges if they continue providing daycare without authorization.
- If the person indicates he or she is willing to become certified, the director may begin the process for provisional certification, which includes a local background check, orientation training, consent for home inspection, child abuse prevention training, successful completion of fire, health and safety inspections, and a pre-screening interview.
- Parents of the children in daycare will be notified in writing of the status of the daycare provider, and that the person is not certified.
- When an uncertified person has been notified of the violation, and hasn’t made an attempt to begin certification within 10 days of notification, and is continuing to provide daycare, Child Development Services will notify the installation commander, and family housing personnel, along with a recommendation for further action.
Information was not available from installation officials about whether they had shut down the operations of the daycare provider in question, a Navy wife, or whether she had made any attempts to be certified, if she was unlicensed.
Attempts by Military Times to reach the provider for comment were not successful.