State audit reveals child care centers and assisted living centers fall short in protecting children, the elderly

SALT LAKE CITY – Some state programs tasked with caring for Utah’s vulnerable populations are falling short, putting them at risk. That’s according to a new audit conducted by the legislative auditor general.

In the 72-page audit, they took a closer look at specific programs managed by the Division of Family Health and Preparedness to make sure they’re operating effectively.

When it comes to Utah child care centers, auditors found those who violated safety standards repeatedly do not face strong sanctions.

Andrea Parrish is a supervisor with the office of the legislative auditor general.

“They do do inspections and those inspections are of high-quality, so I wouldn’t say that there’s any room to be really alarmed, but we did reveal some cases that were concerning to us and I think the division needs to address," Parrish said.

In one case, a center was being investigated for child abuse, but the provider was not ordered to close the facility. In another incident, auditors say a child was confined inside a portable crib that was covered with a trampoline inside a laundry room. But the provider, who had 16 prior violations, was not cited.

“They can make sure that there's additional people that are observing and watching these kids in particular and protecting them,” Parrish said.

The audit discovered senior health care facilities are not regularly inspected and don’t provide the public with results from inspections.

Auditors also called for changes with the Baby Watch Early Intervention program, which helps children under the age of 3 who have special health care needs.

“If we're going to protect these populations, we need to make sure policies are consistent and clear,” Parrish said.

Jenny Johnson, public information officer with Utah Department of Health, says the division concurs with all 21 recommendations and has come up with an implementation plan.

“We're doing everything from re-assessing some policies that we have in our division to creating new policies that the auditor recommended to us," Johnson said. "Looking at different background checks needed for certain positions.”

The legislative auditor general will follow-up with the division in a year to see if they've made any improvements.

Click here for the full audit.