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City Comptroller Audit Finds Child Care Services At City Shelters Not Subject To Same Health, Safety Regulations

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Another part of Mayor Bill de Blasio's homeless policy is under attack as the city comptroller says child care centers at city shelters put homeless children at risk.

CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reports City Comptroller Scott Stringer found in a disturbing audit that child care services at city shelters are not subject to the same health and safety regulations as all other child care sites, which results in a tale of two child care systems – one for the homeless and one for everyone else.

"Thousands of children had no access to on-site child care, not at all," said Stringer, calling it a "tragedy in our city."

Pictures show garbage strewn and broken toys in a play area at one Manhattan homeless shelter.

Stringer found a litany of dangers in the ones that did provide care as 41 percent of child care rooms had no sprinklers and 18 percent had no fire extinguishers. Most disturbing was 82 percent of child care workers were not screened for criminal convictions or records of child abuse.

"That means our homeless children, our most vulnerable, could be cared for by staff with convictions of violent crimes or a history of child abuse," said Stringer.

This is the second time in less than a week the mayor's homeless policies have been called into question.

Former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn demanded the mayor develop a multi-year comprehensive plan, saying New Yorkers are "aching for the mayor to stand up and lead on this issue."

CBS2's Kramer asked de Blasio about the chorus of people who are critical of his homeless policies.

"Some of the biggest tools, weapons we have to address homelessness are on the way," said de Blasio. "There's a lot more coming and we intend to turn the tide, but it's going to be a long battle."

Stringer, long considered a potential mayoral candidate, was asked if politics played a role in his audit.

"This has nothing to do with the politics of some day. This is everything about us doing our job," Stringer responded.

A de Blasio spokesperson said the city is working on a new system for providing services for homeless children as one is expected to be in place within a few months.

Meanwhile, the mayor says he's developing a new homeless plan.

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