Government regulation can be obtrusive, intrusive and downright burdensome. But well-conceived laws have a sound basis in protecting somebody — workers, consumers, children, etc. — from the threat of harm.
Children are the beneficiaries of new Indiana regulations that apply to child care operations that accept state vouchers to help pay tuition costs for low-income families.
The regulations, which took effect July 1, require broader background checks of child care providers and establish new standards of safety and child abuse prevention. The new rules apply to home-based day cares, licensed child care centers and faith-based child care facilities.
Like many new laws that protect children, this one was triggered in part by a specific case. Last summer, a 1-year-old drowned in the baptismal font at an Indianapolis church during day care.
Child care providers must now fingerprint all employees and apply a comprehensive FBI background check to each. This should be a source of comfort to parents who are wary of the many stories over the years of child molesters who managed to find work or volunteer positions that gave them access to more children.
The downside of the new regulations is that the FBI background checks cost about $40, instead of the previously required cursory state background checks that cost $7. As with all costs, these will eventually be passed along to consumers, some of whom will opt for the less expensive route of finding someone who will watch their child in a non-licensed day care (one where only a few children are babysat, and no license required) where the provider does not have to adhere to the new regulations.
The new law also requires training for day care workers to recognize signs of abuse, as well as health and safety measures, such as using sleep sacks, rather than blankets, for infants napping in cribs.