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New Daycare Law Passed

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

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

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

Susan Fleming-Hansen, a child care resource director, said that withouttraining, quality is difficult to achieve.

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

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

Thedetails of the plan still have to be worked out. An amendment tothe bill creates a Legislative Study Commission on ChildCare to help do this.

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

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