The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

State News

October 14, 2013

Lawmakers eye tougher Indiana day-care rules

INDIANAPOLIS — Operators of unlicensed day cares that receive public money would have to undergo training or ensure they had adequate staffing under proposals being considered by lawmakers ahead of the 2014 legislative session.

The moves to improve the safety of unlicensed day cares come as concern rises over the number of deaths in Indiana’s child-care facilities. An Indianapolis Star investigation found that 15 of the 21 day-care deaths since 2009 occurred in unlicensed or illegal facilities. Nine of those deaths were reported in 2012.

“If you take government money, then you should be held to a higher standard,” said Rep. Tim Wesco, R-Osceola, chairman of a study committee looking at child-care safety.

Indiana already requires home day-care providers who look after six or more children not related to them to be trained in health and safety precautions and follow strict safe-sleep procedures. But homes with five or fewer are unlicensed and are not subject to state scrutiny.

Lawmakers this year began requiring unlicensed day cares that receive federal dollars to have written discipline policies, ensure that toilets flush properly — and that employees wash their hands — and employ only primary caregivers who are at least 18 years old.

They also began requiring all licensed day cares, and unlicensed ones that receive federal money, to conduct national criminal background checks on all employees and volunteers every three years.

The new measures being considered would expand state rules for more than 1,000 day cares but would not affect those that are exempt.

Advocates say Indiana needs tougher rules. Ten states license any home that takes in one child, and at least 39 are more aggressive about safety than Indiana is, according to Child Care Aware of America.

Dianna Wallace, executive director at the Indiana Association for the Education of Young Children, said Indiana needs to step up its regulations.

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