Pharos-Tribune

Opinion

November 28, 2013

ANOTHER VIEW: Let's make Indiana day cares better, safer

Tougher standardscoming for day cares?

Recent statements from legislators provide hope for some long-needed tougher standards for Indiana day cares.

At least two proposed bills for the upcoming session would close loopholes that give unlicensed and church day cares a pass on many safety regulations that apply to licensed ones.

Currently, ministry day cares have to meet only minimum standards, despite the fact that they receive federal dollars.

State Rep. Tim Wesco, R-Osceola, who chairs the Committee on Child Care, says he plans to introduce a bill that requires providers receiving Child Care and Development Fund money to be trained in child abuse detection and prevention. Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, and state Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City, say they will introduce bills that require all day cares receiving government money to meet certain staff-to-child rations and group sizes based on the age of the children. This critical requirement already applies to licensed day care facilities.

In the past, such efforts at stricter regulations for church day cares have stalled. That’s thanks in large part to opposition from Advance America, founded by lobbyist Eric Miller. Miller and his supporters say regulating church day cares is a threat to the First Amendment, and would interfere with church autonomy.

But any entity that receives federal dollars — including private Catholic universities such as Notre Dame — accepts certain requirements that come with the funds. Church day cares should be no different.

More significantly, common-sense regulations that make Hoosier children safer ought not be a goal too controversial to achieve. We’ll be watching, pulling for this long-overdue legislation to succeed.

— South Bend Tribune

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