Local News

New Daycare Law Passed

Posted August 30, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Before the 1997 General Assembly adjourned this past week, state lawmakers passed a new day care licensing law and ordered more training for daycare workers.

Ironically, however, they did not include funding to hire more inspectors. Today, fewer than 50 people are responsible for inspecting more than 8200 day care facilities across the state -- and the number of such sites is growing. Day care center operator Catharine Collins says that officials are not able to do a thorough inspection these days.

So, left to their own judgment, when parents choose day care they usually base their decision on how a facility looks. But a provision in the new law may make that choice easier by rating centers and making those ratings public. The law also requires more training for day care workers. Operators say it's a good move.

Susan Fleming-Hansen, a child care resource director, said that without training, quality is difficult to achieve.

Home day care programs are included. They will be licensed, rated and operators must be 21 and have a high school degree.

Rita DeMario operates an in-home day care program and welcomes the changes.

The details of the plan still have to be worked out. An amendment to the bill creates a Legislative Study Commission on Child Care to help do this.

The ratings of all statewide day care centers are supposed to be completed within a year.