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Child Care Health and Safety Standards Stalled at the Statehouse

February 14, 2008

Boise, ID – Idaho's ranking as worst in the nation when it comes to child care safety received a lot of attention last year from legislators, who promised the state would do better. So far this year, however, a bipartisan bill to make those improvements is still sitting in a legislative committee, and a public hearing set for today has been canceled.

The bill would require criminal background checks, fire inspections and first aid training for small child care operations. Donna Wade, executive director of the Idaho Women's Network, says parents around the state are demanding action.

"Their children are not being protected within safe environments in the way they may think. Nothing is more important than your child's safety and well-being."

Karen Mason, with the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children, says a lot of parents mistakenly believe there are already rules and laws on the books.

"The state checks on restaurants, contractors, hairdressers, and dog groomers, so people just assume they would be requiring a bare minimum of health and safety standards for their kids."

Critics of the bill say it should be a parent's responsibility to research child care safety, and many Idaho legislators don't want to address child care because they feel children should stay home with their mothers.

Deborah Smith/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - ID