Professional License Lawyer in North Carolina

Is There a Difference Between a Written Reprimand and Warning on a Childcare Facility License?

Is There a Difference Between a Written Reprimand and Warning on a Childcare Facility License?

I want to discuss two different penalties associated with childcare facilities and the owners that have those licenses.
Normally, when considering a written reprimand versus a written warning, most people would assume that the reprimand is worse. However, in the case of the Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE), the written warning is slightly more severe than the written reprimand. A written reprimand is essentially the lowest penalty that a childcare or daycare facility could receive through DCDEE going through the entire process.
Now, a little bit about the written reprimand. The biggest difference between the written reprimand and the written warning is that there’s no Corrective Action Plan (CAP) with the written reprimand. In contrast, with a written warning, you do have to implement a corrective action plan, also known as a CAP. This plan addresses usually minor issues that may have accumulated over time and were not corrected during previous consultant visits. At a certain point, the consultant is just going to say, “Hey, I’ve talked to you about this multiple times. This still was not done.” Or it could be something kind of like maybe mid-level egregious. And every once in a while, it can be something where you end up with a written warning that can be perceived on its face as being egregious, but it turns out that it wasn’t as bad as initially thought.
The Corrective Action Plan (CAP) is essentially a plan mandated by the state that outlines specific corrections that need to be made. One example would be if you’ve got a couple of allegations, one being that you didn’t have the children’s food at a specific temperature or the refrigerator wasn’t set at a specific temperature. And this is just a wild example; obviously, a quick fix to that is changing policy procedures. Make sure you actually correct the temperature setting in the refrigerator. And then if that was the only thing on the CAP, then you’re done and you comply. Show the state proof of compliance, and you’re good.
With a written reprimand, though, you don’t have to worry about a CAP because none is usually issued. Another difference between the written reprimand and the warning is that you could be accused of doing something, and an administrative action is issued for X, Y, or Z. These could rise to a level of needing a written warning and subsequently a CAP being issued.
However, the consultant and supervisors consider other factors enumerated in the 10A NCAC 09 .2201 administrative code. Subsection B has various factors, including mitigation and accelerating factors, factors considered if something was done massively and incorrectly, and aggravating factors. There are also mitigating factors in that particular portion of the code.
The Division looks at that specific part of the code, examining what transpired, what’s alleged in administrative action, and what’s confirmed through the administrative action. If, based on all the factors in 10A NCAC 09 .2201, Subsection B, it appears that the situation is not as egregious as originally thought and wouldn’t warrant a CAP being issued, then they would go with a written reprimand instead of the written warning. The CAP portion is the most significant difference between the two. You don’t have to worry about going back and doing any corrective actions or having subsequent follow-ups to ensure the corrective action plan was adhered to.
I must say, once you’re on DCDEE’s radar, it’s not easy to get off, especially initially. There’s really nothing, either statutorily or in the code, that an owner can do to prevent inspections and follow-ups. As long as you’re operating within the purview of inspections and follow-ups, they have the right to conduct them. Unfortunately, it might seem like you’re being singled out; just weather the storm. Typically, in about five to six months, everything is in order, maybe even a little less depending on the consultant. If everything’s going well over an extended period, you’ll likely have fewer visits as they get more comfortable with your operations.

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