Daycare regulations seek greater safety standards

Parents know choosing a baby sitter or day care isn’t easy—oftentimes the most reputable facilities are the most expensive.

Legislation up for a vote in Indiana’s General Assembly could help low income parents get safe child care and mandate stricter standards for health and safety.

Indiana House Bill 103, sponsored by State Senator Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis), would establish child care provider requirements for funding eligibility. The bill would create safety regulations that all child care facilities must follow in order to receive Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) grants.

CCDF grants are essentially vouchers given to low income families to find daycare or child assistance while working towards a degree, advanced training or a career.

"All child care facilities should be meeting minimum state standards for health and safety, if not going the extra distance to ensure quality supervision, nutrition, and activities for children," said Sen. Taylor.

The bill requires child care providers to know how to detect, prevent and report signs of abuse to the proper authorities, as well as requires 12 hours of additional training for employees.

As it stands, child care facilities are subject to a number of regulations; ranging from having running hot and cold water, specified safety exits, hand washing, sanitation stands and working smoke detectors.

HB 1036 mandates day cares have written policies regarding: bathroom and hand washing requirements, safe conditions inside and outside the grounds, published nutritional information and menus, daily activities and safety of cars and vans used to transport children.

Many Michiana child care centers said they already adhere to these types of standards in order to receive other types of grants from the state.

At IUSB’s Child Development Center, Mary Wilham-Countway, the director of the program, said they go well beyond the minimum standards set forth in HB 1036.

Wilham-Countway said the sanitation and bathroom rules have been in place forever, the guidelines for nutrition are subject to the greatest change.

Out of the 71 children attending IUSB’s Child Development Center 10 use the CCDF vouchers.

At Little Rascals Child Care in South Bend, a home-based daycare, a higher percentage of the families use the vouchers.

“A lot of single moms rely on the voucher program and they want to make sure their children are with quality providers and not baby sitters,” said Cynthia Tanner, Little Rascal’s sole employee.

Tanner has been in the child care business for more than 30 years. During that time she’s seen regulations increase in number and specificity, however, Tanner said it’s not a burden.

“If it benefits the children it’s always a plus, bottom line” Tanner added.
Tanner is licensed to take care of 10 children and infants—the maximum for any one caretaker. Taxpayer funded grants and programs have allowed her to further her education and keep up with regulations.

In 2011 Tanner received new safe sleep cribs after going through a “Safe Sleep” program, she also received grants for an industrial changing table.

According to Tanner the changes in regulations under HB 1036 are commonplace in most licensed day cares. The smaller, 5 child maximum centers are the ones that could be forced to implement changes.

If adopted the restrictions and regulations would go into effect July 1, 2014. There are 162 CCDF-eligible providers in St. Joseph County.

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