(a) It is the duty of the department, through its duly authorized agents, to inspect at regular intervals, without previous notice, all child care agencies or suspected child care agencies, as defined in § 71-3-501.
(b) (1) The department is given the right of entrance, privilege of inspection, access to accounts, records, and information regarding the whereabouts of children under care for the purpose of determining the kind and quality of the care provided to the children and to obtain a proper basis for its decisions and recommendations.
(2) If refused entrance for inspection of a licensed, approved or suspected child care agency, the chancery or circuit court of the county where the licensed, approved or suspected child care agency may be located may issue an immediate ex parte order permitting the department's inspection upon a showing of probable cause, and the court may direct any law enforcement officer to aid the department in executing such order and inspection. Refusal to obey the inspection order may be punished as contempt.
(3) Except where court orders prohibit or otherwise limit access, parents or other care takers of children in the care of a child care agency licensed pursuant to this part shall be permitted to visit and inspect the facilities and observe the methods for the care of their children at any time during which the children are in the care of the agency and, except those records of other children in the care of the agency and their parents or caretakers, shall further be permitted to inspect any records of the agency that are not privileged, or are not otherwise confidential, as provided by law or regulation, and the parents' or caretakers' access for these purposes shall not be purposely denied by the agency.
(c) (1) In the conduct of any investigations of any child care agency, the department, if it determines such to be necessary, may require the child care agency to enter into a plan for the safety of children in the agency's care pending the outcome of any investigation by the departments of human services or children's services, or by any law enforcement or regulatory agency.
(2) (A) Such plan may require, but is not limited to:
(i) The exclusion or restriction of any individuals from access to the children in care;
(ii) The closure or restricted use of any part or parts of the agency's facilities;
(iii) The reinspection of any of the agency's facilities by any other health, fire or safety agency;
(iv) The modification or elimination of any service provided, or of any procedures utilized or any program conducted by the agency; or
(v) The receipt of further training by the agency's management, staff or volunteers.
(B) The plan may be based upon any preliminary or upon any final findings by the department. The plan may be established in coordination with:
(i) The conduct of any child abuse or neglect investigation by the department of children's services;
(ii) Any criminal investigation by a law enforcement agency;
(iii) Any investigation of the child care agency by any other regulatory agency; or
(iv) In any combination of these investigations,
and may be based upon any preliminary or final findings of such departments or agencies. The plan may also incorporate any recommendations of such departments or agencies based upon their preliminary or final findings.
(3) The department may enforce the provisions of the safety plan by civil penalty not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500), by suspension of the agency's license if appropriate, by issuance of a restricted license to the child care agency, by denial or revocation of the child care agency's license, or by any combination of these penalties.
(4) Any plan that exceeds ninety (90) days when proposed or that continues for more than ninety (90) days may be appealed to the child care agency board of review.
(d) Any violation of the inspection rights established in this section is a Class A misdemeanor.
Acts 2000, ch. 981, § 9; 2001, ch. 453, § 15.
Compiler's Notes. Former § 71-3-508 (Acts 1953, ch. 228, § 5 (Williams, § 4765.142); T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 14-1408; Acts 1986, ch. 536, § 2; T.C.A., § 14-10-108), concerning a hearing on denial of application, was repealed by Acts 2000, ch. 981, § 1. For current provisions, see § 71-3-510.