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State investigating unregistered child care center in legislative office building

The state Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) announced on Friday that it will investigate an unregistered child care center operating in the Legislative Office Building. The complimentary “drop-in” service, which has been staffed by two legislative aides, has been offered to Democratic Assembly members since its quiet launch earlier this year.

OCFS spokesman Solomon Syed said in a statement that the agency has initiated an investigation into the program, which has been offered to both Democratic and Republican Assembly members. Last year, OCFS’s legislative affairs staff met with Assembly officials to provide information on applicable regulations for child care services, including program models that do not require a license.

The large conference room that houses the child care center is located near the offices of Assembly Majority Leader Crystal People-Stokes and Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie, who authorized the room’s use for child care services. The room has been transformed into a child care setting with amenities such as a microwave oven, refrigerator, colorful floor mats, children’s books, toys, blankets, pillows, a water cooler, and a crib.

Kerri Biche, a spokeswoman for Heastie, said the drop-in center was developed as a trial to gauge the need for a permanent child care service. She added that the two staff members caring for the children had previous experience as teachers and were dedicated to their roles. The informal child care services have not been offered to legislative staffers.