New day care requirements designed to keep children safe, but can more be done?

Stricter rules are in place for child day care businesses to help prevent babies from dying while sleeping.

The state now requires licensed child care providers to get trained on safe sleep procedures as well as report any problems right away.

The adoption of the rules is a step forward but some lawmakers say they also want more information about these facilities available to families so they can make the right choices.

According to the Department of Human Services, there are more than 400 licensed child care facilities around the state that now have to follow the recently adopted safe sleep rules. Among the new requirements, they all have to take a safe sleep class, must report any problems or concerns to the state immediately, and must have policies outlined to families who bring their children in.

“They must provide the families the policies regarding safe sleep at the time of registration or enrollment,” said Pankaj Bhanot, director of the state Department of Human Services.

The safe sleep class is 90 minutes, must be taken every year by every adult in the facility, that includes even the owner’s relatives who live in a home that operates as a day care.

“Because they can easily be volunteering or substituting if they have a number of children and they need help, and they are even pinch-hitting for a moment, they need to know the rules,” Bhanot said.

Some legislators say they want to take child care safety one step further by posting violations and complaints online so families will have more information. State Sen. Josh Green says he’s still pushing for a bill that would require the Department of Human Services to post complaints and violations online.

“They’ll have to do it. Sometimes you have to make sure that this is your priority,” he said. “I think they’ve done a better job inspecting facilities and now that they’ve got a lot of extra attention on this issue, I think this is going to be a priority for the department.”

The state says the process is already in the works. DHS is planning to have the site running by July 2018.

One concern is to make sure that complaints are investigated so they’re legitimate. The state will have 30 days to look into the complaints before posting them online.

“We need to give providers due process to really talk about that and afford them the opportunity to rebut or provide additional information,” Bhanot said.

The state says it’s not going to cost that much more to get it done. DHS will move resources around to investigate the complaints.

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