Child care centers get Web scrutiny

INTRO TEXT Massachusetts is taking steps toward giving parents online access to information about licensing and state inspections of child care centers.

Matt Veno, a spokesman for the state Department of Early Education and Care, says that by the end of July parents should be able to check the license status of a center, obtain basic information about its services, and find out whether it is accepting new children.

Later in the year, state officials plan to begin offering more information online, including the results of inspections. Inspection reports provide a broad range of information on subjects from abuse issues to whether the center is operating at overcapacity. Currently, parents can request inspection information directly from a child-care center or order it through the mail from the state, a process that can take several weeks.

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With parents clamoring for easier access to the information, 20 states, including New Hampshire, New York, and Florida, already post data about child care centers online.

Tom De Santes of Scituate just went through the process of selecting a child care center for his two children. He says it would have been a lot easier if he could have checked them out online from home.

Many child care centers were not aware the state was preparing to post information about them online, but some were supportive. “Anything that gives parents more information is important,” says Judith Conway, the director of the Wesley Child Care Center in Dorchester.