At a Milwaukee day care center, police found a duffel bag containing 2 pounds of marijuana, a digital scale, and a business card for the center. In the operator’s residence upstairs, officers found two loaded pistols, $7,000 in cash, three cellular phones, and a pager. At a time when the state’s welfare-to-work program is spurring a growth in home-based day care businesses, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found that seven state-licensed day care facilities in Milwaukee were shut down from June 2005 through June 2006 because illegal drugs were being sold, kept, or used at the day cares or by the people who ran them – putting the children of families who use those facilities in peril.
In one case, day care regulators licensed a convicted felon who once delivered drugs to someone in prison. In other cases, children were present when police executed search warrants at day care centers. Ruth Schmidt of the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association says the cases point to the need for better monitoring of day care operations and for quality rating systems similar to those used for restaurants and hotels. State lawmakers rejected a rating system last year.