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ID Last in the Nation, Again, for Child Care Safety Standards

April 2, 2009

Boise, ID – Idaho has a chance to improve its reputation for child care safety, despite placing last, once again, in a national report ranking the states on basic safety standards. A house committee will consider a bill today that would set child care safety standards for the first time. It would require child care providers, caring for four or more children, to be licensed and submit to criminal background checks, as well as health and fire inspections.

Melissa Bandy, board president of the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children, says it would give busy parents some peace of mind.

"Parents want their children to be safe. The bill would ensure that many more families have access to child care that meets some minimum health and safety standard."

Idaho has seen its share of child care horror stories over the past twenty years, says Bandy, including the recent case of a five-month-old baby girl who suffered brain damage from being shaken by a child care provider. Under current Idaho law, the woman can still be in the child care business.

"The alarming thing is that child care provider still can care for children in Idaho, even though she received a felony."

Another child care operator in Middleton pleaded guilty this week to felony injury to a child for molesting three young girls at his child care. Under current law, he also can still run a child care.

The state Senate already approved Senate Bill 1112. Opponents say parents should bear the responsibility for checking on child care safety, and some say the licensing would raise the cost of child care. Proponents argue the licensing, background checks and safety inspections would cost an average small child care less than $200 every other year.

Rankings were set by the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies. More information on child care safety and quality is available at www.ceeidaho.org.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - ID