The Monitoring Process for Licensed Day Care Facilities

Monitoring is a process whereby compliance on some, most, or all licensing standards is assessed. In almost all instances, monitoring is unannounced, meaning the licensee does not know when their licensing representative will visit. All licensees are subject to unannounced monitoring, at least annually. A licensee’s failure to cooperate with monitoring, or any visit of any type, is grounds for enforcement.

Monitoring takes place at different times and for different reasons:

  • Permit Monitoring: This type of unannounced monitoring occurs at least monthly during a facility’s permit. Compliance is assessed and consultation to the permit-holder is frequent. A permit-holder’s ability to comply is a deciding factor in the Department’s recommendation to issue the first full license.

  • 60 Day Monitoring: occurs within 60 days of a provider receiving their initial license. This visit is designed to assess general compliance and provide consultation or technical assistance to help the new licensee get off to a good start.

  • Annual Unannounced Monitoring: Occurs annually, during the years between initial licensure and renewals. Beginning July 1, 2016, the Department uses an eligibility system to determine a previous history of high compliance and statistically significant “key indicators” which can shorten the number of items that a licensing representative may assess to determine on-going compliance. Not all licensees will qualify for the Key Indicators abbreviated monitoring. Those that do not, will receive a review of their compliance on a more robust selection of varying licensing standards.

  • Protection Plan Monitoring: A protection plan is most commonly implemented during the period of time that a facility is undergoing an investigation involving allegations of child abuse/neglect. The purpose of a protection plan is to limit the alleged perpetrator’s access to children until a determination can be made to either substantiate or unfound the allegations and insure that the children remain safe. A protection plan may continue past the completion of the investigation. This protection plan is monitored on a frequent and unannounced basis to insure the facility complying. Protection plans also can be developed outside of investigations to insure safety, for example, when a licensee is awaiting a background clearance on a new household member.

  • Correction Plan Monitoring: Facilities that are cited for licensing violations are often subject to unannounced monitoring to assess progress on making corrections and to insure that violations are not repeated.

  • Post-Complaint Monitoring: Following a substantiated complaint, unannounced monitoring will be conducted to insure on-going compliance and provide consultation once violations are corrected.

  • Other: Additional unannounced monitoring may be conducted as needed, as determined by issues including but not limited to repeat or chronic violations, egregious violations, business practices which could lead to violations, etc.

If a licensee or permit-holder is cited for violations during a monitoring visit, a record of those violations and their status (pending, substantiated, corrected, repeat, etc.) can be found on the DCFS Monitoring Look-up here. A correction plan will be developed with the licensee. If the licensee fails to correct violations, enforcement action may be recommended, up to and including revocation of their license or permit.

If a licensing representative arrives to conduct a monitoring visit, a licensee should:

  • Feel free to ask for identification. Licensing representatives carry Department-issued identification and will be glad to show their ID upon request.

  • Let them in and cooperate. Failure to permit licensing staff access to a home or center is a violation of day care rule and may lead to enforcement.

  • Ask for clarity and further explanation if there are questions.

  • Insure that if a qualified substitute is utilized, the substitute is familiar with the program, records, etc. to allow the licensing representative to conduct the monitoring visit even in the absence of the licensee.

  • Request a Supervisory Review if the licensee or permit-holder feels that Representative has made a mistake or misapplied the rule in citing a violation.

What happens during a monitoring visit?

Much depends upon the type of monitoring visit, but in general, the day care licensing representative, or DCLR, may:

  • Conduct a walk-through of the home or center to assess compliance with the requirements for the physical plant (inside and out)

  • Check compliance on various licensing standards, especially those which have been cited on previous occasions

  • Assess child-staff ratios

  • Review children’s or staff records, including background clearances and changes in family composition, if applicable

  • Review in-service training hours

  • Provide updates and discuss changes to licensing Rules, provide copies of new rule

  • Develop a correction plan if there are violations

  • Interview staff

  • Check areas excluded from the license for general safety (although licensing standards will not be applied to these areas)

Any of the licensing standards can be reviewed during an annual unannounced monitoring visit. A licensee must allow Department staff access to any area of the premises, licensed or not, to determine if there are serious safety hazards present and that care is not being provided in unauthorized areas. Licensing standards will not be applied to these areas, however.

The Licensing Representative will address any violations found and work with the permit-holder or licensee to develop a correction plan. Usually correction plan timeframes are no more than 30 days; however, some violations are so serious that they must be corrected immediately, overnight or within a few days. Violations corrected immediately are still cited, but the correction plan may focus on long-term actions that insure the violation stays corrected.

Remember—a Licensing Representative may monitor at any time, without prior notice, during the hours of operation and a licensee or permit-holder is expected to be in compliance with all of the standards at all times.

Monitoring is important because not only does it allow the Licensing Representative a true picture of how the licensee or permit-holder is functioning on any given day, but it provides an opportunity for technical assistance and consultation and to build a positive working relationship between the licensee and their Licensing Representative.