Magazine article Policy & Practice

Communications and Customer Service

Magazine article Policy & Practice

Communications and Customer Service

Article excerpt

I recently found myself in the predicament of rushing to find child care for my seven-month-old son after the arrangements I had in place for many months fell through. For a parent, this is one of the most important decisions one has to make--and should not be taken lightly. You must essentially trust the safety and welfare of your child to someone else. With three weeks to find a new provider, I was feeling more than a little anxious.

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As an administrator in the human service arena, I know that finding quality child care that meets a family's needs is a daunting task. In-home care providers, child-care centers, registered, licensed ... what's the difference? And, how do you even begin to search? This event gave me a personal experience with one of our professional challenges.

I consider myself lucky that I knew how to navigate the system to find a provider that was a good match for my family and do all the requisite reference checking. But what about those parents who don't know where to begin? That's a question we've been trying to answer in Kansas as we focus our efforts on being truly customer centered.

What is the state's responsibility? At minimum, the state has a responsibility to be transparent in how it does business. This should include providing information to the public about what is required of individuals licensed to provide child care and how the state monitors compliance with those requirements. The state also has responsibility for ensuring the welfare of our most vulnerable populations, especially children. It follows then, that the state should play a role in helping families locate and, in some cases, purchase quality child care.

In Kansas, these state responsibilities are shared by two agencies. The Department of Health and Environment is responsible for licensure and inspection of child-care facilities, while the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services is responsible for providing support to local resource and referral agencies who help families locate providers; investigating reports of alleged child abuse and neglect; maintaining the Child Abuse and Neglect Central registry, which lists individuals barred from working, residing or volunteering in a child-care home or facility; administration of the state's Early Head Start program; promoting and funding a variety of child-care quality initiatives; and providing a subsidy to help low-income working families pay for quality child care.

This division of responsibilities can be confusing for both providers and for families. …

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