Thursday, December 28, 2017

Child Care Aware? Child Care Unaware? Child Care Beware - Oregon & Washington State

The pattern across the United States is similar to the recent article which came about because two babies died in a day care center in Portland, Oregon.  The last death that mom went above and beyond, contacting every government agency and contract government agency to dig up any information that was on the Broadway Children's Center. 

The legislature in Washington State worked on and off for years regarding the issue of giving parents nothing more than public records. Those efforts like in 2007 were brushed off from the Department of Early Learning's (DEL) shoulder like a pesky fly. Impotent. The attorney general's office advised the law was a "shall".  DEL did not care. When pushed by me and legislator representative Ross Hunter, it was that DEL could not do it until they got millions of dollars for a new computer system.   DEL did not care.

I got a copy of the records on put the information on my website.  Cost to give parents the most compelling information?  Nothing.  Time spent to upload and edit?  About 6 hours. 

DEL said they needed millions to obey a law that was a "shall".  

Oregon in this article is making the same excuse.  Oregon's management of the licensing agency is worse than even Washington State which is terrible.  2014 in Washington State like this mom's horror it came uncovered when a second baby died in a day care facility there.  Then finally that license was revoked.

As a licensor for thirteen years as I saw over and over the failures of licensing and before I went outside the internal whistle blowing system to the public directly via KING 5 News and testifying to the legislature I told parents to trust their gut feelings.  Interview the provider. Any reaction on their part of anger or defensiveness to a question; or a feeling that they provider was controlling them from asking questions as well as how do the children look; over 70% of communication is non-verbal thus if they got a bad read do not put their child in that day care.

The corruption in so many states and so many state governments; and so many regulatory licensing agencies after decades went so far beyond the Pale that the American people wanted an outlier for president; and one of them won. 

It is time to hold these corrupt and/or incompetent/lazy government managers to account.

From the article:

"Oregon regulators are responsible for licensing and monitoring day cares with four or more children. But they've shown little urgency over the years responding to serious injuries at licensed facilities and have failed to alert parents to known concerns, a review by The Oregonian/OregonLive has found. Among the shortcomings:
  • Over the past decade, a child was seriously injured at an Oregon day care every 43 hours, on average, according to state data analyzed by the newsroom. That's six deaths and 2,022 serious injuries, excluding seizures, reported between 2007 and 2016. When the state's early childhood policy board recently discussed annual injury figures, one official said simply, "Wow."
  • Regulators acknowledged in interviews that until very recently, they hardly ever visited day cares in response to a reported injury. The state's website for childcare consumers displays none of the injury data for parents looking to evaluate individual facilities.
  • Oregon officials concluded that children were abused or neglected at 51 day cares between 2012 and 2016, according to state documents obtained through public records requests. None of those substantiated findings of abuse or neglect show up for parents to view on the state's childcare website.
  • The state also found 97 childcare providers since 2007 who defrauded the government out of $834,000 in subsidies intended for low-income working families, other state records show. The fraud determination did not end those operators' eligibility to provide childcare, and none of the fraud findings is shown online for parents.
  • State officials don't always notify families when taking steps to close a day care. In one case, regulators tried to shut down an in-home facility after the owner admitted to illegal drug use, documents reveal. But kids kept attending the facility this year because state officials never told parents it was no longer licensed."
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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

"My mother runs a day care and abuses the kids."

Stefan Molyneux has good shows about life and takes the time to delve into the issues.  

The young man in this one, his mom runs a day care.  His mom insults the children, mocks them, hits them, is impatient, mocks them if the children cry...

Take a listen.

Friday, June 23, 2017

DSHS DEL Child Day Care licensing Agency pays out $1.87 million to Four day care Kids in Washington State

As the expert witness on this case that had been in litigation for five years, the Department of Early Learning (DEL) in Washington State offered to settle with these children about two weeks after the Attorney General's Office deposed me.

I give props to Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC law firm for their proper conduct in the handling of this case that resulted in telling the complete story of the failure of DEL in its licensing of the All Hours family home child day care in Marysville, Washington which resulted in the sunlight shining down like a laser spotlight on the failures of DEL managers in overseeing and managing child day care licensing.

As a former Department of Social & Health Services (DSHS) investigator of child abuse then a day care licensor for thirteen years as well as being a whistle blower intermittently through those years; when I went public on King 5 News in November, 2004 DSHS after a protracted time,  DSHS dismissed me then within six months an attorney looking for an "expert in day care" found me; and off I went on my new career again keeping to my purpose the protection of children and the health and safety of the public through the work I've done for the last eleven years.

People throughout the last eleven years from time to time when I've shown up for depositions asked me, "Are you the attorney?"  Like Erin Brockavich I say similarly, "Hell, no, I hate attorneys." With my new career as an expert witness some of my epiphanies about the legal profession have in part been slow in coming because I believe the best about people.

As law firms were not prevailing or only prevailing a bit, I was at a loss to know why (as experts we are not kept in the loop so to speak which is proper) and because in my thirteen year career in government I had never lost an enforcement action, in 2014 I was not going to do this career any more.  I decided the next attorney who called me that I was going to yell at them.  An attorney from Texas made that call to me. I told him no holds barred what I thought of attorneys.  Ha, ha, ha then he told me no holds barred what he thought of expert witnesses.  We were on the same page.  He sent me a relatively small amount of documents.  I reviewed them; called him and said, this, that, this and he said, "Stop! I would never have thought of that.  Will you write out my deposition questions?"  The other side settled quickly after that.

That seemed to bring in the some good energy and now attorneys who have integrity have contacted me; and my success rate (theirs really for doing proper attorney stuff) has moved in the direction of starting to rival my success when I was inside that government regulatory enforcement agency (DSHS now known as DEL).

With this case the law firm properly said, basically, to me, "Here are the documents, apply your knowledge and expertise and write a declaration for the case."  My expertise comes in part not only from having done day care licensing for thirteen years, but in the years since by making a plethora of public disclosure requests my files are filled with copies of documents which tell the story clearly, compellingly and cogently. In addition, when the assistant attorney general (AAG) at the deposition asked how I got trained in part I was able to say to him the Washington State Attorney General's Office trained me.

It is an odd juxtaposition for me to sit across the conference table from an AAG explaining to him the laws and regulations that his office trained me on repeatedly over my thirteen years with licensing.

I give parents who stand up for their children kudos. It is a monumental act to even contact DEL and bring up a concern a parent witnessed in child day care. DEL has a history of protecting day care providers who per RCW & WAC, their licenses were a MUST to have never been issued or they were a MUST to have been revoked. The DEL website CHILD CARE CHECK page just recently after ten years made a change.  Yes, I said TEN YEARS. Ten years after the legislature passed a law in 2007 that was a "SHALL" to post information to the public as to licenses DEL revoked (going back to when they were DSHS) on CHILD CARE CHECK not only did DEL not do it for ten years some of the few names that had been on there DEL removed including Edith Goetz where seven month old Jesse Hunt in 1994 died as a result of having been shaken.  Sweet Jesse is on the cover of my book, "DSHS Secrets" that I wrote and published December 31, 2012.  His mother, Michelle Hunt (she wrote the introduction to my book) and I wanted his sweet face to be out there to the world so he will be seen and remembered.

A month and a half after DEL settled with these four kids a child care center asked me to come out and consult with them about what the heck DEL was doing in marking so many items as a violation when in years past DEL had NOT done so.  Looking over her "Facility Licensing Compliance Agreement" form I was able to advise her that most of the violations marked all referred back to lawsuits that parents had brought because their child had been injured, maimed or made dead in licensed day care in Washington State. Once she understood the history, the center owner got promptly to making the corrections while I was still there touring her facility.  I liked her center.  All the little ones in all the rooms were happy calm children, bright eyed and engaged with the world. They looked well care for and clean.  It made my heart happy to see children who were happy because in my thirteen years I saw so many traumatized children in day care homes where my managers would not take action to protect children by taking the providers' licenses.

This center director was able to update me as well that the supervisor I had who I made a plethora of whistle blower reports on that never got fully investigated left the agency abruptly with no fanfare or goodbye celebration. Sounded like about a month after DEL settled with these four kids.

A couple of months after DEL settled with these four kids DEL finally posted per the requirements of RCW 43.215.370.  Ten years.  I have 2007 emails from the Attorney General's Office to DEL advising DEL the law was a "SHALL" and DEL must do it.  DEL for ten years basically flipped off the Attorney General's Office.  Ten years.  What hubris by the unelected government agency bureaucratic managers.  Ten years.

Ross Hunter, the now director of DEL as a state representative tried valiantly to get the State Auditor to complete my whistle blower reports.  As well Mr. Hunter wrote a heroic letter to push for an investigation and/or audit as to why DEL was not conducting proper investigations of applicants and others associated with a day care home.  He had the documentation I submitted to the State Auditor that he wrote and called "...the tip of the iceberg...".

When I read the depositions on this case licensors and supervisors essentially were turning on each other, kind of not my job or they indicated it was the attorney general's office fault. One supervisor eleven years, yes ELEVEN years after DEL was created under RCW 43.215 still thought and testified that DEL licensed under RCW 74.15. 

I stopped by Olympia headquarters of DEL on Monday, June 19, 2017 to see if I could catch up with Mr. Hunter. I did not, but hope to in the near future have lunch with him and offer my skills and expertise to assist Ross in proceeding in the direction he had analyzed accurately; where he so genuinely had concerns and so heroically wrote that letter that put the health, safety and well being of the child in care first.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Child Day Care in Washington State; Parent Appreciation Day and How to Be Like Your Favorite Detective

I have a particular high regard and appreciation for parents who in spite of the fight and against all odds go the distance to find justice for their children. Little ones who were treated unkindly, who were emotionally traumatized, who were injured, sexually used and molested, little ones who were maimed in licensed child day care or worst of all died as a result on being in day care.

The government system of oversight is flawed and is set up to hide information from parents. What the government and private agencies with whom they contract put out is misleading information on their websites contrary to clear laws the legislature enacted (in Washington State, for example).  I have emails showing the Attorney General's Office advised them that the law was a "shall" to post revocations and suspensions on day care facilities where children were injured or where the violations of law required revocation. The Department of Early Learning casually and cavalierly ignored the law and the Attorney General Office's legal advice on the law.

Unfortunately, as history shows the regulated become the favored client in government oversight and that is the history of licensed child day care as well. 

Parents are at a disadvantage calling in a complaint to the government or its contracted agencies like Child Care Aware. Parents are stonewalled and given inaccurate information even as their gut feelings, their intuition told them the true story. As a former child day care licensor who blew the whistle on the government in Washington State, I have for the last ten years helped parents (and a few providers) get a measure of justice.

Sometimes parents took on the system themselves through the courts and sometimes parents found the high quality law firm that helped them get justice for their child. The biggest part of the story in standing up is that in the future their children will know that mom and dad went to bat for them against a seemingly insurmountable wall of injustice that makes up our government bureaucracies. 

To quote Erin Brockovich whom I had the honor of meeting: "If you believe you're right...stand up and fight for your place in the sun. If you believe you can do it, hang in for the whole 15 rounds because even if you don't win, you will have earned the respect of everyone in the fight, including, yourself and in that sense you have prevailed."

 For parents: The day care has called. Informed you something happened to your child. The more vague the stronger your intuition becomes. Become like your favorite detective, who, what, when, where, how and to what degree or extent. Get the names of staff on duty, when they arrived, get attendance for the day and in your child's classroom. Which children were there, what were their ages? Were any children in need of extra attention prior to the something that happened to your little one? Where were each of the staff at the moment of the "something happened"? Get statements in writing from each staff member, the managers and directors about the something that happened.  The required state form for accidents can lead to vagueness on such a form. Do not depend on that. Parents, you get details, you have a right to know. You have a right to know the details of the day, how it unfolded, leading up to the moment that the something happened to your little one.

Parents are welcomed to email me to get support around what questions to ask. Write Margo at

With over 20 years of successful  government oversight and now 10 years as an national independent expert witness and analyst regarding child day care licensing as well as teaching courses on recognizing child abuse, child safety, child guidance and observational skills I bring quality focus, comprehension and cogent thought to civil lawsuits, administrative hearings, to parents, grandparents,
to the legislature and the general public on child day care.

Contact me at

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Parents More and More are Protecting their Children from Licensed Child Day Care in Washington State

Previously as a licensor for thirteen years now for almost the last ten years an expert witness/analyst on the functioning of the Department of Early Learning (DEL) I see from this January 6, 2016 article child day care continues in decline in Washington State while more and more parents analyzed the risk to their children and made other arrangements.

I would advise the mother interviewed for this article and other parents to not put children in a day care setting until they can talk; until they can "tell".  Many parents have done the math and know only two people cannot give any real semblance of quality care to eight infants.  Two people with eight infants?

I see there is a new assistant director in DEL, Frank Ordway who told the interviewer why the number of centers declined from 7000 to 5700 in the last four years: "...there's no money in it"

Perhaps Mr. Ordway might have analyzed the impact of the two infant deaths that occurred in a licensed day care, a provider who only took infants and contained them in a basement that didn't meet safety regulations. After the first infant death without conducting an investigation DEL allowed the provider to continue with her license. A little over ten years later another infant died in the same day care. Parents might have read about that case last year.

Ordway went on to say: "So if you have eight infants, you've got to have two employees," Ordway said. "And you're trying to pay them a living wage, the overhead, the insurance and all the things that come along with providing infant care. It's a really difficult business proposition."

What actions has DEL taken since the deaths of those infants who were in the news for the last few years?  

Mr. Ordway continued: "So over just the last year, 18 months, there has been a variety of laws and policies passed in Olympia that seeks to increase the opportunities, in terms of more child care providers," Ordway said. "A better marketplace, a slimmer set of regulations for them to follow. And if they deliver high quality, more money to reimburse their services." 

Thus as those infant deaths were in the news DEL worked on "...a slimmer set of regulations for them to follow..."?

After not enforcing the safety regulations where two infants died the solution by DEL seems to be to manifest a further decline in such duties as training, oversight and enforcement around licensed child day care?

In the time that I was licensor when licensed providers were required to attend renewal orientation the high quality providers told me how embarrassed they were at the low quality of providers who sat at the table with them.  "This is who people think we are?" For a time those high quality providers formed a separate association to work at bringing quality up. To alleviate the problem of high and low quality providers having to meet in the same room the agency stopped requiring renewal orientation even though it was a law.

But as W. Edward Demings taught us quality must come from the top and go down. The quality at the top of DEL, in my expert opinion, is atrocious.  DSHS (Department of Social and Health Services) under Governor Locke had embraced the Deming business principles ("quality must come from the top") but those never manifested in a system with a long history of entrenched poor quality management. The poor quality of the top managers at DEL comes down the pike to the regional then local levels then on down to the day care provider level.  Poor quality managers liked poor quality providers is what I witnessed.

When too many children die eventually it makes the news then a pretend reform process is instituted. They rename the agency, replace the top person and announce to the public (with the media willing to be their mouthpiece), see we fixed it?

Day care licensing was pulled out of DSHS in 2006, given its own special agency reporting directly to the governor. That was supposed to fix it or give the appearance of fixing it.  A whole new agency with new RCW (Revised Code of Washington) and new WAC (Washington Administrative Code), new laws that at first tamped down the health, safety and well-being of the child in day care.  Plus a whole new load, boatload of taxpayer money to pay for the governor's special agency.  I have a copy of an email between two top managers at DEL making over $100,000.00 with benefits telling each other they were bored.

What is DEL doing now? They are at the top at the right hand of the governor?  What pretend reform are they working on now?

Researching for an up-date I see Ross Hunter is now the director of DEL since September 2015. I find that sad.

When Mr. Hunter was a representative in the legislature he got my copies of the records I submitted to the State Auditor Whistle Blower program. Rep. Hunter found the records extremely concerning and attempted to meet with the top managers of DEL at that time, he was very frustrated with them; and he was powerless to change their behaviors.

Now Mr. Hunter's biography is listed on the DEL website as the new director with nary a concern mentioned about child safety in child day care in Washington State.

Parents will continue to become more empowered and will protect their children as they process and filter through all the propaganda DEL and its managers continue to publish on their website, through news media sources and through taxpayer paid for child care resource and referrals willing to be mouthpieces for the Department of Early Learning.

The article states on average a year of infant care costs $17,300.00.  Parents will find ways for one parent to always be with their children until the children are old enough to protect themselves and can "tell."

One or both parents will become entrepreneurs and figure this out.  They will find work. Their work schedules are such that one parent or the other is with their baby.  That is happening right now with thirty-something year old parents in my extended family.  

I had one provider on my caseload who did medical transcription part time while having her own day care business when her kids were little.  When they went into the school system; she did medical transcription full time from home and was available for school events and supports.

Parents will figure this out and they will more and more protect their children.

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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Parents and Law Firms: Protecting Kids Through Power Googling

An article written by Arianne Fuchsberger, M.A., a Research Associate for Persuasive Strategies Blog gives parents and attorneys a powerful tool. Persuasive Strategies, written for attorneys I find provides a plethora of valuable information for my line of work as an analyst/expert witness for civil lawsuits related to child day care.

Fuchsberg's article outlines how to conduct searches on potential jurors. Ah, a good skill for parents to embrace to decide which day care will protect and nurture their child.

With my twenty plus years experience and witnessing inside a state government agency and in my opinion parents must understand the government background check process in most states is a joke. Government websites extolling all is "OK" with a particular day care on their particular website is too often nothing more than playing Russian Roulette.  It is smoke and mirrors paraded before parents, the public and the taxpayer that all is perfectly fine in daycare when it is not.

Parents cannot count on the government to do a character background investigation then an analysis on the search documents found on day care staff. The failures I saw inside the system were atrocious; I documented, kept records, put together a log; copies of all were submitted to the high elected offices charged with protecting the public in Washington State.

Where one agency started to take an action to investigate the problem other power brokers stopped that action. Then the government brought in a new computer system and archived the old one in such a way you have to be a computer expert to know how to ask for the "public record" for it to be produced.

Understand the government does not exist to protect your child or your peace of mind. It is more powerful for the parent to know individually the parent is more powerful and sticking up for your child in the end will produce the responsible and trustworthy party. You can be more powerful than the government.

On a child day care center you are researching get all the names of all the staff. Start searching Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and sex offender registries, etc (see article).

A sexual molestation case in day care I assisted with one year I found by a simple search Facebook postings of a person the day care staff had submitted as a character reference. The personal reference was a convicted sex offender.  This information was readily available but no one with oversight responsibilities conducted any kind of research or investigation into any of the staff person's references. Simply ignored.

If child day care centers react to giving you the names of their staff people don't put your children in those day care centers. It is a red flag.  If the state attempts to assure you (particularly in Washington State) that their "background" check "cleared" tell them you are not asking about criminal conviction background.  Your interest is in the "character, competence and suitability" of the staff person; and asked to see copies of records assessing those factors. You want it in black and white.

Be upfront, powerful and demand to be shown the process by which backgrounds are cleared. Asked the state what they mean by "background".  The history with state governments is they mush up criminal conviction history per a list someone up in the government headquarters office drew up as opposed to the "character, competence and suitability" part of the process.

If state government drags their feet, speaks doublespeak, double talk to you, ask why a parent would not have full disclosure on who is having unsupervised or supervised access to their child?  Why not?

When you get the names of day care staff and information pops up contrary to the types of characteristics required to nurture, guide and keep your child safe, print off a copy of what you found, make a copy for the state, give it to them with a demand to know how the state and/or the daycare failed in their duty to find out information you found easily in your search.  Document everything.

From the article is an example of information you might find on Facebook posts (substitute for "juror" day care staff):
  • "Posts – What jurors post or the comments they make on other posts or articles can provide great information. First, what they say can give you an idea of their attitudes and beliefs. How they say it can give you an idea of how strong that belief is, how outspoken and opinionated they may be in deliberations, as well as in jury leadership. Finally, the way in which they say it can provide you with information on their education level and self-perception and presentation."
In teaching my class to day care staff employees when folks identify a favorite detective of theirs these folks seem to have the sharpest critical thinking skills. Sometimes until we do the group exercises they don't realize how sharp and capable they are.  If you have a favorite detective channel them as you do your own investigation.

I see many day care staff hungry and thirsty; wanting to participate in a higher quality of care.  Parents pushing at their end gives the higher quality day care staff concomitant power at their end to push; to confront and expose poor quality staff they've witnessed being unkind to children.

You may want to follow Persuasive Litigator; besides possible strategies in keeping your child safe there might some strategies for your workplace environment as well.