Examining what it takes to be a home daycare operator in light of marijuana operation bust

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WEST HARTFORD--The discovery of marijuana plants growing outside a West Haven home daycare has many in that line of work speaking out.

Jerry Pastor with Connecticut Child Care Association called it "aberrational."

It was a random check-in with state inspectors that led them to 600 marijuana plants behind a Norfolk Street home day care in West Haven. The drugs were valued at more than $1 million.

Pastor said "it underscores the value of licensed, well-regulated child care centers in Connecticut. The training, supervision and adherence to the highest standards of safety at our state’s child care centers should give parents the peace of mind they need in knowing their children are being loved and properly cared for."

Sarah Rice, owner of the Toddler Patch is West Hartford, told FOX 61, "I honestly couldn't believe it."

Rice said it's cases like this that make unannounced inspections necessary.

Rice has been running her business for almost seven years out of her home and has had at least one visit per year by the state. This year, she's had two.

"It keeps us on our toes," said Rice.

And it's a big process, for the whole family. "You have to have a complete background check, you have to get fingerprinted. Your entire family goes through a background check. For everyone 16 years or older, you have to get a physical, you have to be up to date on all vaccinations."

As expected, the home and yard inspections are intense. Rice said, “They're looking for things like any household cleaners out, exposed outlets. Any exposed nails or rocks that would be around, and your playscape a child could fall on and potentially hurt themselves."

It's not just the obvious rooms that state inspectors search. They go through the entire house, including rooms kids aren’t allowed in, like bedrooms. They even search closets.

"My daughter and son when they come home from college, there’s no dirty clothes on the floor, make sure hairspray is away, everything has to be five feet up," said Rice.

After 5 p.m. when the little kids are gone, the Rice family needs to be prepared should inspectors stop by first thing in the morning. "I have to make sure everyone is onboard with following the rules and regulations," said Rice.