The findings of a federal report suggest that some of Maine's childcare facilities are dropping the ball on health and safety.
The assessment was conducted last year by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; its findings were published this week.
In the report dated August 11, the Office of the Inspector General found that multiple child care facilities in Maine had failed to verify criminal records of employees, and had failed to create a safe environment for children. The report says that potentially dangerous items, such as cleaning supplies and heating devices, had been left within reach of young children. Year-old breast milk and expired medications were also found in storage at some of the facilities.
26 facilities that receive federal funding were selected for the unannounced inspections. The report makes several recommendations, including more frequent monitoring and oversight of child care facilities by the state.
Mary Mayhew, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services could not be reached for comment over the weekend, but according to the Bangor Daily News, Mayhew who had received the audit results several months ago, responded to the report in a June letter, where she acknowledged that the audit would help the department improve child care in Maine.
Maine is one of three states targeted so far in a federal push to improve monitoring of childcare facilities around the country which receive government money.
The federal Administration for Children and Families will review the state's efforts, to determine whether enough improvements have been made for Maine to keep receiving the roughly $20 million dollars it gets from the federal government to support its child care facilities.