Thursday, May 16th, 2013
In a welcome piece of good news from Washington today, the Department of Health and Human Services has proposed major new regulations to help protect children in child care centers and family child care homes. “Many children already benefit from the excellent care of high-quality child care providers who are meeting or exceeding the proposed requirements,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “However, too many children remain in settings that do not meet minimum standards of health and safety. These basic rules ensure that providers take necessary basic steps to shield children from avoidable tragedy.”
I met recently with parents whose children had died in child care because these types of regulations did not exist. These parents have been working to help make sure that a similar tragedy wouldn’t happen to other families, and their advocacy has paid off. Child Care Aware of America has led the charge for safety and quality improvements, and we’ve been privileged to partner with them on their efforts. Most parents would be shocked to learn about the current minimal standards.
For all child care providers who accept federal funding through the Child Care and Development Fund, the new regulations would require:
- Health and safety training in certain areas
- Compliance with state and local fire, health and building codes
- Comprehensive background checks (including fingerprinting)
- On-site monitoring
States would also have to post information online for parents about health, safety, and licensing. The proposed regulations will be open for public comment for 75 days.
Friday, April 12th, 2013
Earlier this week, I was honored to participate in a panel discussion at Child Care Aware of America’s Policy Symposium about the important role that parents play in advocating for improved safety and quality standards in child care centers and family child care homes. Vicky Doughterty (pictured with me), of Pennsylvania, shared her story of how her 17-month-old son, Warren, died after suffocating in an outdated and defective crib at a family child care home. Vicky has become a passionate advocate to help prevent other families from suffering a similar tragedy: Pennsylvania state law does not require that child-care providers have inspections before becoming licensed, and inspections of family child care homes are only conducted for a random sample of 15 percent of registered homes each year.
Kim Engelman’s 13-month-old daughter, Lexie, died as the result of an accident when she was left unsupervised in a child care home. Shocked to learn about the lack of regulations in her state, Kim fought for the passage in 2010 of Lexie’s Law in Kansas, which includes comprehensive safety and quality requirements. Certainly, caregivers can be loving and trustworthy, but they also need proper training and guidelines to follow.
Read our article, The Child-Care Crisis to learn more about how you can help improve child care for all children, and send a letter to your members of Congress as they consider reauthorizing the Child Care & Development Block Grant and strengthening minimum protections for children.
Child Care Aware just released its latest rankings of states’ child care regulations and oversight. Only 16 states address the basic health and safety requirements recommended by pediatricians. See your state’s ranking.
Thursday, November 15th, 2012
Child care often costs as much as college tuition, and 87 percent of Parents readers who use child care told us that finding affordable quality care is either a challenge, very hard, or simply impossible. The facts in our recent article, “The Child Care Crisis,” are eye-opening.
Although we’ve heard a lot about our “do-nothing Congress,” watching this video of a Senate subcommittee hearing about child care gave me some hope. The Chairwoman, Democrat Barbara Mikulksi, and the ranking Republican, Richard Burr, had nothing but kind words for each other. They both said that it was time to make improvements to the Child Care and Development Block Grant, the legislation that authorizes Federal subsidies to states for child care, which hasn’t been updated since 1996. “It is absolutely crucial that we make a national commitment that safe and quality child care is available everywhere,” Senator Burr insisted.
After all, no matter what party you’re in, children should be a priority. As Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Republican Conference, said recently: “The worst time to work together on a bipartisan basis is right before an election. The best time to work on a bipartisan basis is right after an election.”
Parents is partnering with Child Care Aware of America on a letter-writing campaign to advocate for new standards like these that will protect children at child-care centers and in family day-care homes:
- Comprehensive background checks for all caregivers
- At least 40 hours of initial training and 24 hours of annual training for caregivers in health/safety and child development
- At least one unannounced inspection per year
- Required state license for all centers and day-care homes of any size
- Results of inspections and violations posted online
- Quality rating systems for centers and homes in every state
- An increase in the percentage of federal funds reserved for quality improvement
Please click here to send a letter to your members of Congress!
Photo courtesy of Child Care Aware of America