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Bill Approved By House Would Emphasize Day Care Education

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A bill passed by the state House Wednesday afternoon would require day care operators to do some extra homework to get their ratings.

Right now there are three categories that rate day-care centers: education of staff, programming and compliance. The proposed bill, which passed the House 114-1 Wednesday and now goes to the Senate, calls for more emphasis on education.

The state started this rating system in 1999. When a day-care center opens it's automatically given one star -- then, if the facility wants, it can try to earn more stars by making improvements in the three categories.

This proposed bill could make that a tough task to do.

"We keep trying to improve things in our childcare," said Rep. Martha Alexander, (D) Mecklenburg County,

Right now, compliance, which addresses issues like sanitation, accounts for a third of the state's 5-star rating system.

But some legislators don't believe it needs to be part of it at all. They say the emphasis should be solely on learning.

"It will ensure more quality within centers," Alexander said.

Taking compliance out of the equation could hurt some centers -- it's where many get most of their points.

"Compliance is one of the things that should be considered because it goes to whether the center is operating the same way every day the way it's supposed to," said Anne Casper of the Children's Discovery Center.

On the new scale, teachers would have to beef up credentials in order to get more stars ... and centers might have to get more creative to provide a better learning environment.

There is a financial concern with the proposal: if teachers have to take more classes, centers will have to pay them more and in turn they'll pass the cost onto the parents.

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