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States’ child-care requirements called too lax

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WASHINGTON — Parents with children in day care often assume workers have cleared background checks and the facility has passed unannounced inspections, but a review to be released Tuesday finds a large number of states don’t have such requirements.

The watchdog arm of the Department of Health and Human Services found that 21 states do not require an annual unannounced inspection of all licensed child-care providers and that only 15 require background checks considered comprehensive by the agency’s Administration for Children and Families, according to the report.

About 1.6 million children use federal subsidies to attend day-care programs at about 500,000 different centers and home-based providers. Even when unannounced inspections are required by states, they aren’t always done.

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