Child Safety Advocates Push for Expanded Child Care Regulations

Child safety advocates are pushing the state of Ohio to pass laws to regulate child care businesses with six children or less amid the recent study by The National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral that ranked Ohio last in the nation for childcare.

The study rated states based on 14 different categories including health, safety and well-being of children, education and training of caregivers and employers, and facility inspections.

The study ranked Ohio, along with eight other states including Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Virginia, South Dakota and New Jersey, last.

Ohio law currently requires homes and centers who care for seven or more children to be licensed-one of only five states in the nation. Providers who care for six children or less-unlike state regulated providers who care for seven children or more-are not regulated. These providers are exempted from passing criminal background checks, and child abuse reports. They also do not have to complete health and safety training and gain experience caring for children for at least 30 hours before operating their center.

Alicia Leatherman, director of the Governor's Early Childhood Cabinet, hopes to see "a consistent licensing system for all child care providers in Ohio." She says that "it's part of the governor's strategic vision."

Other Situations where Child-Care Licensure is not Required in Ohio

  • Centers with programs operating only two weeks or less a year
  • Centers with programs operating only one day a week for no more than six hours
  • Centers where parents remain on the premises (unless at the parent's employment site)
  • Centers providing specialized training in specific subjects, such as art, drama, dance, and swimming

According to some, only requiring regulation in certain child care programs simply opens the door to substandard child care. Elaine Ward, senior vice president and chief operating officer for 4C for Children agrees and indicates the need to "ensure some basic health and safety requirements before someone hangs up a shingle."

Others disagree claiming regulations should not apply to all child care situations. Opponents argue that the state of Ohio doesn't have a role in oversight in an individual's home.

Whatever the decision, standardizing child care regulations across the board could take years and cost the state at least $6 million a year.