Category Archives: Child Care

A Hero

Guest post by Pam Buckham, Safety Program Manager in the DCF Northeast Region, Office of Child Care Regulation & Background Screening.

Taki Starkes receiving an award from DCF Northeast Region Regional Director Dave Abramowitz for her quick action to protect her students.

Taki Starkes receiving an award from DCF Northeast Region Regional Director Dave Abramowitz for her quick action to protect her students.

Taki Starkes, owner of Juzt Kidz Learning Center in Jacksonville noticed a strange and disconcerting smell in her child care center. She acted immediately and followed the steps in her emergency evacuation plan by first calling 911 and then taking her children outside to safety. When the fire department arrived shortly after, they determined that there were dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in the building. Luckily, given Ms. Starkes’ short response time, all of the children survived the incident. Several of the children exhibited symptoms typical of carbon monoxide poisoning, which could have been much more life-threatening had they stayed in the building any longer.

Juzt Kidz Learning Center is located in a strip mall that includes three other child care centers. Two of those centers also had dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide and were evacuated. Upon inspection, the fire department determined that a construction crew in an adjoining suite had left generators running indoors and the carbon monoxide had spread through the air ducts.

Ms. Starkes was honored by DCF Regional Director, Dave Abramowitz and given a certificate of appreciation for being a hero. Mr. Abramowitz told the children at Juzt Kidz that “sometimes good people turn out to be a hero because they do something extra special to help someone else.”

Situations like these remind everyone from homeowners to child care providers to perform routine check-ups of our carbon monoxide detectors and also reeducate ourselves on the symptoms characteristic of carbon monoxide exposure. Initial symptoms include; headache, fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath or dizziness. Severe symptoms include; mental confusion, vomiting, loss of muscular coordination, loss of consciousness and ultimately death.

To prevent carbon monoxide leaks, make sure all appliances in your home or office building are installed properly and according to a manufacturer’s instructions, check your carbon monoxide alarm every six months — replacing the battery as needed, and never operate a portable generator in an enclosed area or leave a car running in a garage.

Need tips on how to find the perfect child care facility for your child? Check out our recent blog post. We wish you a wonderful 2013-2014 school year!

Finding a preschool

87803131_smallFinding a preschool for your child is a very important decision. Before you know it, the 2013-2014 school year will have begun. Here are some questions and resources that may help you as you look for a school for your young child (be sure to check out back-to-school discount info at the bottom of the post!):


  • Is the facility licensed by the State of Florida? Some Florida child care centers also earn a Gold Seal designation, reflecting quality in the level of care and supervision provided to children.  Visit our online search to identify licensed child care providers and see inspection histories.
  • Are all teachers are up-to-date on training requirements?
  • Does the facility meet all staff-to-child ratios?
  • What kind of curriculum do they offer? Is it developmentally appropriate?
  • Do staff have positive, nurturing interaction with the children?
  • Do the children appear to be happy and comfortable in their surroundings?
  • Are the children constantly supervised? Is each staff member responsible for the same children each day?
  • How do they keep parents informed about their child’s progress and school updates? How frequently are communications sent to parents?
  • Does the facility have clean, safe surroundings?
  • Do they provide healthy, nutritious snacks and/or meals?

Here are the minimum ratios of children:teacher required by law:

child care

Additional information and requirements regarding all the above issues are detailed in the Florida Administrative Code Child Care Standards.

If your child is 4 years of age by September 1, your child may be eligible for Florida’s FREE VPK program.

In addition, the back-to-school sales tax holiday will be August 2-4. During this period, no Florida sales tax or local option tax will be collected on sales of clothing, footwear, and certain accessories selling for $75 or less per item, on certain school supplies selling for $15 or less per item, and on computers and certain related accessories selling for $750 or less per item when purchased for noncommercial home or personal use. This is the first time that computers and related accessories have been included in the holiday. Check out the Florida Department of Revenue website for more info.

 Have a safe and wonderful school year!