By Vicki Louk Balint | November 8, 2018
Child care licensing consultant Raegina Rico taught in the classroom for ten years until one day, her child care center management team tapped her for a new assignment. She was asked to assist a center during a probation period pending a hearing from the Arizona Department of Health.
That move would draw her in to the world of child care licensing safety, compliance, rules, and regulations. As she learned more, Raegina developed a passion and an urgency that led her to become a child care licensing consultant. AzAEYC’s newest board member talks about her work and why compliance matters so very, very much.
What sparked your interest in child care licensing?
I was transferred to work as a center director within a child care center once I finished my internship at Arizona State University. The center was struggling to rectify a number of violations. I became so curious about why some of these rules were necessary. For example, why does a file cabinet need to be at least 3 feet from the door? Why does a trash can have to have a lid? Why can’t we use crockpots? Why are dangling cords hazardous? What’s the reason parents can’t bring home baked cupcakes in for the class to celebrate a birthday?
You successfully rectified the violations at that first center within just a couple of weeks. Soon, your company began sending you to other centers.
During that time, I began to fully understand the sense of urgency for safety and compliance. I became fascinated with learning laws of child care licensing, both on my own and from many Arizona Department of Health Services mentors I’ve known over the years. As I absorbed the “whys” behind the rules and regulations, it became my passion. There was SO much information that teachers need to know to keep children safe. I decided that this was the area where I needed to become an advocate.
Talk about your work as CEO with Title 9 LLC — your child care licensing company.
I work directly with child care investors, owners, and center directors to build, create, and license high-quality child care facilities in the state of Arizona. That includes conducting fire, safety, and sanitation inspections in childcare centers as well as investigating complaints.
I observe facilities and offer solutions based on the Arizona’s child care, fire & safety, environmental, and contracting vendors laws and regulations. I also help enforce and interpret these laws and regulations to ensure the health and safety of the young children in the facility’s care. I complete extensive audits for my clients. By working directly with Arizona Child Care Licensing and all state agencies, we work hard to accomplish these goals.
Besides working to help rectify violations, you have been instrumental in guiding construction of brand new centers as well.
I am involved. As I’ve also owned my own child care center, I know and understand what it takes. So I am there from the very start — from the architectural blueprints for brand new grey scale centers as well as helping to identify modifications for buildings to assure they’ll be safe and in compliance. I work with department of health surveyors to help facilities implement policies, rules, and regulations. I assist in implementing systems to prevent harm to children and employees in these facilities.
What are some of the most common child care licensing violations that you see?
When I’m out in the field, I have found many centers with the same violations or repeated citations. From fingerprint records to attendance sheets to making sure that guidelines for activities such as Tummy Time are properly followed every time. There are many resources and policies already in place to help limit and prevent these violations. Good, established policies help guide centers to better training teachers and staff and to best utilize materials in their centers.
What goals do you have in mind for AzAEYC as you serve on the board?
I’m excited to explore how we expand use of AzToolkit to help directors establish systems to comply with child care licensing regulations — to put them in place. Raising quality is what naturally follows! The resources within AZToolkit are a huge benefit that can really help centers to stay in compliance, save time, and most importantly: to keep children safe.
As the owner of Title 9, LLC., Raegina Rico helps investors and child care owners start and monitor their own businesses. As a child care licensing rules and regulations analyst for child care centers and group homes, Raegina has licensed more than 200 centers.