Who’s Watching the Kids?

Carl L Marcellino

May 08, 2009

         With the tragic death of 2 year old Olivia Raspanti of Hicksville, at the Carousel Day School Senator Carl L. Marcellino is renewing his push for nursery school regulations.

            Thousands of children are enrolled in New York’s Nursery Schools, which operate without statutory definition and outside of regulation and oversight. Since 2003 Senator Marcellino has been carrying a bill (s4212) that would require nursery school providers to file with the Office of Children and Family Services. Initial filing would be valid for one year: Subsequent renewals would be valid for two years.  Once filed, Nursery Schools would be required to conform to applicable OCFS rules and regulations.

          “The heartbreaking death of Olivia is a dreadful accident that tugs on the heart of every Parent and Grandparent. However it is the Government’s ultimate responsibility is to keep our citizens safe. It is a sad fact that for much too long Nursery schools have been falling into the cracks and have been unregulated.” said Senator Marcellino. “I believe that we have to do better.” 

"There is no more crucial piece of legislation pending than this, because it will protect thousands of children from harm. In this day and age, where children are so vulnerable and need the security of safe and quality early education environments, it is unthinkable that thousands of children attend nursery schools have NO oversight whatsoever. Children need this legislation immediately. Other states ensure protective oversight for ALL children in early education programs, and the children of New York deserve the same sureties. This legislation is needed NOW, before another child is harmed in an unregulated nursery school," said Kathleen Roche, Founder and Executive Director of Rainbow Chimes. 

               Current statute regarding child care providers authorizes the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) oversight only for those operators who provide care for more than three hours a day per child. As a result, an entire subsection of child care providers, specifically those who care for children for three hours or less a day in settings commonly referred to as nursery schools, have no statutory definition and operate outside of OCFS regulations and oversight.  

               “Entrusting the care of your children to others is never easy.  However, the State, and those you count on to be safe need to give you confidence that they are doing their job,” said Senator Marcellino.              

Joining Senator Marcellino to discuss this important topic were; Child Care Council of Suffolk, Inc. Executive Director: Janet Walerstein, Joanne Roachetta, Lois Long; Child Care Council of Nassau, Arlene Labenson; Rainbow Chimes, Reverend Kathleen Roche, Founder & Executive Director; Suffolk County Dept. of Social Services; Nassau County Department of Social Services, John E. Imhof Ph.D., Commissioner; Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice’s Office, Siva Finkelstein, Special Victims Unit; Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas J. Spota Office,  John L. Buonora, Chief Assistant DA; Oyster Bay Co-Op Pre-School, Beverly Zembko  and Adelphi University, School of Social Work, Diann Cameron Kelly, PhD Assistant Professor.

              “My legislation would bring nursery school providers under State supervision, thereby protecting the safety and well being of a large group of children who remain vulnerable. We cannot wait for another tragedy before we pass this legislation,” concluded Senator Marcellino.