The Department of Public Health (DPH) serves an important role in regulating child care programs in our state.  Any time a DPH inspector chooses to visit a program it can be intimidating for center staff and managers.  After all, the regulations can be confusing and it can seem like your licensor holds the fate of your reputation in his or her hand.  But there are ways to make this a more productive, less fearful relationship.

  1. Let your staff know that a DPH representative is visiting the program.  This helps to relieve the stress of “strangers with badges” asking them questions and looking over their shoulders.  Have an assistant manager join the inspection if possible.  This is a time for him or her to collect the staff and child files that the inspector will need to review as well as any other information that may be needed.
  2. Walk through the program with the inspector.  You are allowed to do this.   This is the opportunity to answer questions and ensure that the inspector finds the items they must and understands your policies in action.  This is also the opportunity for the manager to see a violation at the same time an inspector does, making it easier for the center for formulate appropriate responses.
  3. Have your files and information organized and easily accessible.  You will be nervous.  Have well organized files and information limits the need to sort through papers with shaking hands while you search for that physical that you “just know you received “.
  4. Ask questions during the exit interview.  Have the inspector show you the regulations that you do not understand.  Make sure that you discuss the practical and logistic difficulties your center may have in making a policy change.
  5. Understand your options if you do not agree with a violation.  DPH inspectors DO make errors.   If you disagree with a citation, you have the right to note this in your response.  If this doesn't remedy a situation you believe is unjustified, you have the right to request a hearing.   You have the right to legal representation at a hearing, whether requested by you or DPH.   In particular, if you are called to a compliance hearing, this is highly recommended.  CCCA can provide you with recommendations in this regard.
  6. Know that most citations might fall into the category of minor violations and are usually easily remedied and the inspection is a win/win for everybody.  However, you should know that there are several major violations that might lead to more serious ramifications:  Ratio, Group Size and Records.  AT ALL TIMES you should be in compliance and make extra efforts to be  so.   Train your staff and stress the importance of adherence.
Most importantly…breathe.  Most inspectors are there to simply do their jobs.  Many of them have been center managers in the past and understand your anxiety.  We all want to maintain compliance with regulations and provide high quality programs.  Have confidence in your efforts to do so.

If you need clarification on a DPH regulation or request, let CCCA hear from you.  We can often assimilate the information from different members and present questions directly to DPH.  They have been responsive to concerns presented in this manner.