Channel 2 Action News has discovered unlicensed day cares are advertising their services all over the Internet, and the state can do little to stop them.
Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh brought several listings she found in just one search to the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL).
"We are very, very concerned about this,” said Commissioner Bobby Cagle.
When a day care operates without a state license, there is no oversight. They operate off the radar.
Cagle said his department is staffed to monitor Georgia's 6,000 registered day cares and follow up on complaints. But he said the Craigslist findings are eye-opening.
Kavanaugh began looking into the issue after Lilburn police were called to a home on Arrowind Road in June. They said 10 children, including two infants, were left there alone in dangerous conditions.
Police arrested the unlicensed operator, 23-year-old Melissa Brown.
"This is a prime example of how children can be put in danger very quickly," Cagle said.
Kavanaugh soon learned it was one of many advertising services online. Some of them even claim to be licensed when they’re not. Cagle said parents have to be savvy consumers.
"Look at the center. Actually go in and do unannounced visits prior to leaving a child there," Cagle said.
He said while they can't stop all of the false listings, they provide an abundance of resources for parents. The state’s hotline for registered day cares is 1-877-ALL-GAKIDS. Click here or here for more information.
Cagle said it's a “buyer beware” environment for children's safety.
DECAL said it regularly investigates complaints that facilities are unlicensed. He said the state can shut them down. Often, the state will work with the operator to bring them into compliance.