October 4, 2019

Changes to Fire Safety Inspections & Standards for Child Care Facilities

Following the fire at a child care facility that claimed the lives of five children, Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller announced efforts to enhance fire safety at all Pennsylvania child care facilities and strengthen DHS’s regulatory authority and further protect children.

Updated Standards

Effective Sept. 16, 2019, the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) requires its licensing staff to include fire safety checks in every initial inspection, renewal inspection, unannounced inspection, and complaint inspection. Licensing staff will require each facility operator to demonstrate an operable fire detection and prevention system, which includes the presence of operable smoke detectors on each floor of the facility and fire extinguishers in the kitchen or other cooking areas at minimum.

If an operator is unable to demonstrate such a system, DHS licensing staff will complete a complaint and deliver it to the Department of Labor & Industry or local officials. These officials have the authority to act against the facility. DHS also recommends that licensed child care facilities work with their local fire safety officials to meet compliance with fire safety codes. DHS will also cite the provider for a health and safety violation. These changes will also be codified in DHS’ child care regulations moving forward.

In September, DHS conducted a fire safety initiative call campaign to collect information from family child care providers and alert them to the department’s fire prevention efforts. This campaign surveyed family child care providers about their fire prevention systems and emergency plans, including evacuation plans for children in overnight care. DHS will use the information gathered to inform ongoing efforts to enhance fire safety at Pennsylvania child care facilities.

More Information

For more information, read the full PA Key newsletter.

To learn more about child care in Pennsylvania and view inspection history for licensed providers, visit the COMPASS website.

*Information provided via The Pennsylvania Key

Image: Two early childhood professional work to get a group of children into a single line, ready to move to a next location.