NEW YORK (PIX11) — East Harlem resident Licelot De La Cruz offered strong reaction to a recent police raid of yet another home-based day care facility.
Those kind of day cares often serve as a convenient, neighborhood-based oasis of stability for millions of working class parents across New York City. But the day care on Licelot’s block allegedly unknowingly housed an illegal ghost gun operation, according to police.
“I’m worrying about the kids, the mothers. I don’t know what happened with the world,” said De La Cruz.
PIX11 News wanted to get to the bottom of the existing city and state inspection protocols. PIX11 visited one of Manhattan’s many home-based day care facilities to learn more about not just where inspectors look — but just as importantly — what they seem to be looking for.
The owner of the day care asked to not be identified by her real name, nor her apartment-based day care business. This story will refer to her as Sara.
Sara talked about her most recent annual, unannounced inspection, which she said lasted nearly three hours and included varying degrees of scrutiny, in both the common and personal areas of her apartment.
“They come in the bathroom, then my bedroom. They go in this room. She checked with the babies. She checked out how you work,” said Sara.
But when asked if the inspector went through her clothes or opened her dresser drawers, looking for possible signs of illegal contraband, including drugs, Sara replied, “No.”
PIX11 News also obtained a sample copy of the city’s official internal inspection checklist. A keyword search turned up zero results for “fentanyl,” “drugs,” “3-D,” or “printer.”
Mayor Eric Adams is now pledging to step up inspection searches citywide, following the recent discoveries of deadly drugs and illegal guns in home-based day care facilities, and bolstering training for local health inspectors and possibly pairing them up with police.
Potentially at risk are the lives of tens of thousands of children until state and local officials can effectively beef up the inspection protocols currently being used in the field.
All of the questions raised in this story are likely to be considered in a newly-formed working group announced by Adams, aimed at making the inspections more comprehensive.