Delivering Reliable Daycare Through Improved Regulation and Monitoring
This blog post is the first in a three-part series entitled When the Unimaginable Happens: Wrongful Death and Injuries of Children in the Hands of Childcare. This post was written by Sara M. Davis.
As accident and personal injury attorneys, we are well aware of the costs and risks of daycare in America. In recent years, we have seen an increasing number of deaths of young children in unlicensed and unsafe daycare centers. It’s tragic, it’s unnecessary and we’re doing what we can to stop it through increased legislation and improved monitoring.
The Issue of Quality
Parents who have tried to find a daycare program for their children are well aware of how difficult it is to find one of high quality. There are many factors that contribute to the often low standards of daycare programs, including low salaries for childcare workers, high demand, and lack of regulation.
It’s intuitive that to attract quality providers, a decent salary is necessary. However, in 2011, the median annual salary for a childcare worker was $19,430. To put that into perspective, the average parking lot attendant or janitor makes more than the average person entrusted to care for children in the United States.
The simple solution, then, would be to increase childcare workers’ pay. But where would this money come from? Such an increased cost that would further stress families who are dependent on this care and with costs already so high, this is unlikely to be an option for most families.
Daycare Policy and Regulation
With exorbitant costs and questionable quality, what can be done to get the childcare system under control and why hasn’t anything been done to ensure the safety of our children?
Childcare regulation varies significantly from state to state. Regulations cover things like how much training and education will be required of providers, maximum child to provider ratios, frequency of inspections, etc. Generally speaking, many states have very loose requirements. For the laws and regulations that are in place, enforcement has proven to be a major obstacle.
Shutting down a daycare center is often a complicated legal process – one that is not often seen through by officials who are charged with this task. More often, a preference for trying to take some kind of remedial action wins out and little improvement is actually made.
At Whiting Law Group, we’re working with legislators to raise awareness about this important issue and to help encourage new legislation to ensure that daycare is safer for our children.
Beyond the legal obstacles to shutting down a daycare center are the customers themselves. Parents who depend on these centers so heavily would be without a place for their children. When faced with the choice between being able to work and having to stay with their children, parents are often forced to choose the former in order to continue to support their families. With so few options out there, little else can be done.
Childcare policies are a reflection of our society’s sentiment that children should be cared for by their mothers. From a traditional perspective, in an ideal world, women would not be working, but would instead be able to keep a home. While our views have developed and women are now common in the workplace, our childcare systems have not kept up with the times. In the 1960s, a federal childcare bill was passed, but was vetoed by President Nixon. The bill was designed to provide care for all children who needed it. No meaningful comprehensive childcare policy has been achieved since that attempt. Of course some government funding is provided to assist with childcare through the current welfare system, but the demand for childcare has far outgrown the assistance provided.
Read the previous and following posts in this series: