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Editorial: New child care rules assurance of safety

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Added costs that will be incurred by child care providers — and, in turn, users of their services — as the result of new rules that went into effect Monday are necessary expenses to pay for tougher hiring standards that should have been put in place years ago.

The Indiana General Assembly adopted the new requirements for child care providers in the last legislative session. They will force nonprofit agencies that provide child care to seek additional funding for their operations and for-profit businesses to increase the fees they charge for their services.

The new provisions include:

  • Thorough criminal background checks on employees through the FBI every three years.
  • Any facility that takes children younger than 12 months old must certify that staff members have had training on safe sleep practices for infants and must also have been instructed on proper practices for such things as hand-washing, hygiene and diapering.
  • All caregivers must be 18 or older. Assistant caregivers can be as young as 14, but they must always be under the supervision of older staff members.
  • Child care facilities must be open at all times during operating hours to unscheduled visits by parents or guardians wishing to check on their children.
  • Child abuse detection training must be offered to staff members, and a form attesting that an employee has participated in that training must be kept in personnel files.
  • Programs must have a written child-disciplinary policy that parents must be asked to review and sign.

Coming all at once as they did, these requirements still must not be viewed as government intrusion into private sector organizations. The FBI background checks will cost nearly $40 a person, a dramatic increase over the $7 fee assessed for limited state background checks.

These steps are common-sense approaches to protecting our most valuable commodity — children. They are certain to make child care even more expensive, but it is a cost that society should bear, be it through individual families that avail themselves of the services or the organizations that provide them.

The new rules are not an indictment of the entire child care community but are really an assurance that children can be placed in safe and secure environments. That’s reflected in the reaction to the new rules by a number of local child care providers who acknowledged the added expenses but welcomed the standards that can protect them as well as their young clients.

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