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Photos show rat infestation at US House of Representatives Child Care Center

House of Representatives Child Care Center Source:{ } 7 News{ }
House of Representatives Child Care Center Source: 7 News
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The 7News I-Team obtained photos of what a whistleblower said is evidence of months of rodent activity inside the U.S. House of Representatives Child Care Center. The center cares for the children of Representatives and their staffers.

Three years ago, $12 million of your tax money was allocated to build the state-of-the-art facility.

RELATED | 'Nobody should live like this:' Residents say rodents plague DC apartment complex

Photos of rodent droppings, a dead rat and traps inside the center were captured after a whistleblower claims the center was slow to respond to staffers' requests to relocate classrooms after rats were discovered.

In an anonymous text posted online, a whistleblower claims there have been 15 sightings of rats and some rodents crawled over kids during nap time.

The pictures were first made available online in multiple posts on the Instagram account: Dear White Staffers. Its page has gained notoriety for posting issues about Capitol Hill.

Last Friday, 7News reached out to the HRCCC and the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer with the House of Representatives who manages the center.

The center didn't respond, but the Chief Administrative Office did. However, it didn't confirm or deny that the center has a rat problem.

The Office of the Chief Administrative Officer released the following statement about the issue to 7News: "The Office of the Chief Administrative Officer and the U.S. House of Representatives Child Care Center have been working closely with the Architect of the Capitol and the Office of the Attending Physician’s environmental health staff since early July to investigate and address reports of rodent sightings and activity with the assistance of a contracted pest management company.

All parties involved have taken immediate action and the utmost care in ensuring the Child Care Center remains a safe and welcoming environment for staff and the Center’s children and families. As a preventative measure, several initiatives have been implemented to address potential harborage, access, and sanitation concerns, including but not limited to, frequent and rigorous Center inspections which will continue. There have been no reports, sightings, or evidence of rodents since mid-August.

The safety of all congressional staff and their children is a top priority of the Child Care Center and the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, and all necessary actions have been and will continue to be taken to address any health and safety concerns."

Parents and the Chief Administrative Office expressed concern over children's safety due to security issues, so 7News is not revealing the center's location.

READ MORE | DC has a 'Rodent Control Academy' to teach residents on how to deal with rats in the city

7News did obtain a series of emails confirming the center has a rat problem.

On July 11, the center’s Director Paige Beatty emailed families saying, “Over the past week there have been several rodent sightings.”

From: "Beatty, Paige"

Date: July 11, 2022 at 5:17:47 PM EDT

Subject: HRCCC Update

Dear Families,

Over the past week, there have been several rodent sightings on the West side of the HRCCC. We want to do everything we can to ensure a safe environment for everyone at the HRCCC.

This includes working closely with the Architect of the Capitol (AOC), who are evaluating the issue and determining the appropriate pest management techniques to address the problem. The techniques can include increased sanitation, modifying storage practices, sealing entry points, physically removing the pest, etc.

We are confident that with continued focus on pest management practices we will be able to minimize future occurrences.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you,


Paige Beatty


House of Representatives Child Care Center

Office of the Chief Administrative Officer

More than a month later, on August 16, Beatty emailed staff saying since July 11, evidence of activity has slowed significantly but three more rodent sightings took place in the center.

Parents were informed the center was working closely with the Architect of the Capitol to determine the appropriate pest management techniques to be used.

From: "Beatty, Paige"

Date: August 16, 2022 at 9:01:47 PM EDT

Subject: HRCCC Update 8.16.22

Dear HRCCC Community,

We are aware of ongoing concerns regarding the rodent activity in the House Child Care Center. We originally reached out to families on July 11th about a recent increase in rodent activity on the West side of the Center and planned next steps. In the following weeks, we continued to see somewhat frequent evidence of activity, primarily concentrated in a few West classrooms.

Although there continue to be occasional sightings, both these and evidence of activity (during and after-hours) have slowed significantly since mid-July. There were two rodents sighted today (one in an East adult restroom and one caught in a trap on West overnight), and the previous sighting was in a classroom bathroom (the children were on the playground) on August 8th. We are hopeful that this slowing is an indication that the measures put in place are effective, and sightings will continue to be fewer and further between.

The Architect of the Capitol (AOC) and the Office of the Attending Physician (OAP) Environmental Health team have walked the entire Center multiple times and made recommendations to help reduce rodent activity, including increased cleaning, more frequent trash removal, and the shoring up of any potential entry points or hiding spaces for pests. The AOC has had representatives from their Mechanical Branch, Plumbing, Stone Masons, Carpentry, Sheet Metal, and Service Center present over the last several weeks continuing to make adjustments to the spaces.

The AOC is responsible for facilities management, and the Architect of the Capitol, J. Brett Blanton, has met with Chief Administrative Officer, Catherine Szpindor, to discuss the importance of continued proactive measures being put in place at the HRCCC and throughout the ****. The Committee on House Administration is aware of this situation and is actively working with the CAO and AOC.

We have also engaged with AOC Safety, CAO Safety, the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration to ensure that we are doing everything that we can to ensure a safe learning environment for our children and a safe work environment for our staff.

It is important to us that we continue to provide continuity of care to families. Ultimately, we would like to avoid any disruption to care unless necessary for the health and safety of our children and staff. At this time, neither the AOC or the OAP has suggested nor recommended a closure of our Center or relocation of our classrooms. Depending upon ongoing AOC and OAP recommendations and guidance we can explore alternative options.

We are also aware of some additional concerns raised related to the House Child Care Center, its operations, and team. Please know that we take every concern raised seriously and are continuing to work with the AOC on facility management, and with the Office of the CAO and CAO Human Resources as it relates to operations, leadership, and personnel. The HRCCC has zero tolerance for discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, military status, or any other basis prohibited by law. We are committed to protecting the physical and social-emotional health and well-being of all children, families, and staff.

Thank you,


Paige Beatty


House of Representatives Child Care Center

Office of the Chief Administrative Officer

Eight days later on August 24, Bethany Detweiller, the center's Operations Manager emailed staff listing preventative steps already completed including:

  • Added additional trash pick-ups.
  • Sealed holes & replaced access panels in children’s bathrooms.
  • Added rodent-proof sealing to plumbing and replaced damaged or missing ceiling tiles.

SEE ALSO | DC's rat problem bigger than Nats-Mets interruption, they are chewing through trash cans

We also learned from emails 7News obtained on September 1 that the center will undertake a deep clean of every classroom.

On Aug 24, 2022, at 3:02 PM, Detweiler, Bethany wrote:

Hi HRCCC team,

We realize that there has been upset and concern about the recent rodent activity at the center. This has not been an easy situation to navigate and we are aware of stress it may be causing. If you are experiencing feelings of stress, overwhelm or anxiety for this or any other reason we encourage you to reach out to the Office of Employee Assistance. Additionally, the House Center for Well-Being offers programs and services addressing all elements of well-being including, but not limited to, physical, career, social, and emotional. We recognize these resources have been shared repeatedly, but we strongly encourage you to utilize them if you are not already.

This email is long, but we want everyone on our team to feel informed about what steps have taken place so far, as well as what our role is to help mitigate this issue within HRCCC.

HRCCC has been working closely with the Architect of the Capitol (AOC), the Office of the Attending Physician (OAP) and the House’s contracted pest management company since early July. They have recommended the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach as the safest and most effective way to deal with rodents in a child care setting. This is the approach utilized across the House Office Buildings and is also the approach recommended by NAEYC and Caring for Our Children (National Health and Safety Performance Standards Guidelines for Early Care and Education Programs). Fumigation is not a technique used to treat for rodents, and while rodenticide can be used in some cases in specific, targeted ways, neither OAP nor the pest management contractor recommends its use in child care centers. Instead, IPM focuses on addressing harborage and access areas, sanitation, and trapping, which are the areas that the AOC and OAP look at in each of their walkthroughs and make recommendations for changes.

The pest control contractor is currently scheduled to walk through the Center 3 times a week as a preventative measure, monitoring for activity and laying traps as needed. When traps are laid, they are to be removed before the opening of the Center each morning. The AOC and OAP will continue to respond to each sighting (rodent or rodent activity) and continue to make recommendations to address potential harborage, access, and sanitation concerns.

To date, the major tasks the AOC has completed include the following:

  1. Added additional trash pick-up at the end of the day to avoid food sitting in trash cans overnight (sanitation)
  2. Sealed holes & replaced access panels in carousel sinks in children’s bathrooms (harborage)
  3. Added rodent-proof sealing to plumbing/wall connections (access)
  4. Fixed holes/gaps in cabinetry (harborage)
  5. Replaced damaged/missing ceiling tiles (access)
  6. Organized supplies in janitor closet (harborage)
  7. Trimmed landscaping on playgrounds (harborage)
  8. Ordered weather door strips for exterior doors as needed (access)
  9. Placed traps in the basement of **** and near the building dumpsters (trapping)

To date, the major tasks the HRCCC has completed include the following:

  1. Resumed monthly classroom carpet cleaning (sanitation)
  2. Moved furniture from flooded classrooms out of the multipurpose room and into storage (harborage)

Additional HRCCC Responsibilities

  • If you see a rodent, feces, or urine in HRCCC please inform a member of the admin Team immediately. We will reach out to the AOC who will respond and notify the pest contractor.
  • Please note the OAP recommended way to clean rodent urine or feces. Apply gloves and use a wet cloth or paper towel to dispose of the feces or urine. Spray the area with Center provided disinfectant. If you do not feel comfortable cleaning the area please notify a member of the admin team to help.
  • Clear clutter around the center (storage rooms, classrooms)
  • All countertops/surfaces must be clear for AOC to clean them. They will not move anything on any surface so if you have clutter on counters, they will not clean them. This includes bathroom sinks and kitchen countertop areas.
  • Move items such as boxes and storage bins off the floor in classrooms and storage areas.
  • Ensure tables, chairs, countertops, sinks and floors are cleaned and clear of any food remnants after each meal
  • Move items such as boxes and storage bins off the floor in classrooms and storage areas.

Food storage:

  1. Any leftover food items from snacks or lunch should be returned to the kitchen daily and not stored in classrooms
  2. Safe snacks for children with food allergies should be stored in plastic bins (HRCCC will provide these if needed)
  3. Any teacher snacks/food should be stored in plastic bins (HRCCC will provide these if needed)

We are working with the AOC to undertake a Center deep clean, which would involve a thorough cleaning of the cubbies, drawers, cabinets, floors, and other surfaces throughout the Center. This is anticipated to begin on Thursday, September 1, and will likely occur in phases. Your classroom will be notified ahead of the day the room will be cleaned. HRCCC must remove all items from drawers and shelves prior to cleaning. This includes personal items and items that belong to HRCCC. Furniture will be moved during cleaning to allow access to the full floor. AOC will do their best to place everything back where it belongs. We strongly suggest getting a head start on removing items from drawers and countertops as everything must be removed and take advantage of the opportunity to think critically about classroom storage. Items stored in classroom cabinets should be organized, accessible and regularly used. Consider what you are currently storing, whether items can be discarded or stored in community storage or taken home if they are personal items. Artifacts or past projects may need to be photographed and stored digitally for revisiting rather than stored long-term in cabinets or on shelves.

We hope this information is helpful. We also recognize that there is some room for growth in our communication systems, and there may be some additional ways that faculty and staff can feel supported in a safe, comfortable work environment. To this end, we are working with the CAO Immediate Office, Human Resources, and Office of Employee Assistance to convene a series of listening sessions during the next in-service days. More information on this will be coming soon, but these listening sessions will offer time to share ideas about things that are going well and potential areas for improvement. Information from these sessions will be compiled by the facilitators and used in developing action plans for next steps, and we can consider this an additional tool for gathering feedback over time. Moving forward, we hope to engage in ongoing, open dialogue about Center operations and any concerns that may arise.

Please feel free to reach out to me or any other administrator if you have any questions or lingering concerns.

Thank you,


Bethany Detweiler

Operations Manager

House of Representatives Child Care Center

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