Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Bill Sets Day Care Standards ; Legislation Looks to Sync Rules for Child Care Facilities

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Bill Sets Day Care Standards ; Legislation Looks to Sync Rules for Child Care Facilities

Article excerpt

INDIANAPOLIS - Unlicensed day cares in the state would have to meet basic health and safety requirements to accept federal subsidies under a plan Indiana lawmakers are considering. Standardized teacher-to-child ratios, professional development and bathroom and hand washing procedures are all required under a proposal that has cleared the Indiana House. The legislation begins to sync requirements between registered child care ministries and other legally unlicensed facilities to ones already followed by their licensed counterparts, such as the Children's Learning Center of the University of Southern Indiana.

"I certainly think more Hoosier children are going to be able to be put into facilities and left with confidence knowing their kids are safe," said state Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City, the proposal's sponsor.

Unlicensed facilities would be required to follow the requirements to accept federal dollars that help parents afford child care. Mahan said his proposal covers all day care programs that accept the federal vouchers, but acknowledged most licensed facilities already follow the requirements.

Southwestern Indiana is unique in the number of child care ministries participating in the state's day care rating system, Paths to Quality, said Jennifer Drake, president and CEO of 4C of Southern Indiana Inc. The organization serves as the child care resource and referral agency for 14 counties in Southwestern Indiana.

Almost 25 percent of the region's child care ministries participate in Paths to Quality, compared to about 11 percent statewide, Drake said. Paths to Quality rates child cares on a one- to-four scale and programs can achieve higher levels by satisfying education and training standards and becoming nationally accredited.

Requiring teacher-to-child ratios is a key change under the measure because without them there's no limit to how many children can be in the care of a single provider, Drake said.

As the House prepared for a final vote on the new regulations, Mahan met resistance from some lawmakers worried his proposal could affect religious activities at the ministries. However, Mahan said the legislation carries a specific disclaimer that those activities would be untouched. …

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