Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Failing Grades: States' Standards for Child Care Centers

The Early Ed Watch blog (thanks, New America Foundation) brings news of a report by the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies on state efforts to monitor child care. Link to report.

The news is not good.
Who's watching who's watching the children? The federal government
leaves this task to the states. But states are failing to ensure that childcare
centers are safe, according to
a report released today by the National Association
of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies

Parents assume that if a child care center has obtained a state license, it must meet some basic standards of child safety and personnel training. But in many places, the license means very little, said Linda K. Smith, NACCRRA's executive director.

"A license on a wall does not mean that a center has ever been inspected," Smith said. "This is inexcusable."

NACCRRA examined state regulations and oversight in 50 states plus the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense, which runs its own network of child-care centers. Each state was judged using a scorecard created by the association that gave states points for policies that address health, safety, and quality of childcare providers -- such as how frequently the facilities are inspected, whether caregivers must go through background checks, and whether directors have any training in child development.

The average score was an F. No state earned an A or B, and only one -- Washington, D.C. -- earned a C. The Department of Defense got the top score, with 131 of 150 possible points or a B grade. Unlike states, the military must comply with standards under the Military Child Care Act of 1989.

NACCRRA's breakdown of the states with the strongest and weakest standards in child care licensure (the Defense Department and District of Columbia were included):

Top 10: DoD, DC, OK, TN, MD, RI, NY, IL, FL, WA
Bottom 10: NM, AK, IA, MO, KS, CA, GA, NE, LA, ID

Good news - three of the largest birthplace states are in the top 10.

Bad news - California is in the bottom 10....

And here's a stat from NCCRRA's webpage that caught my eye...
Over 11 million children under age 5 spend an average of 36 hours a week in
non-parental care settings. Almost two-thirds of these children are in
center-based care.

No comments: