Letter to the Editor/ Opinion-Editorial
By Indiana State Senator Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis)
Word Count: 346
Each day, parents drop their children off with child care providers, assured that their children are being cared for in a safe environment. What they may not realize, however, is that many child care providers are not in compliance with health and safety standards due to an exemption in state law for "child care ministries."
By attaching the word "ministry" to the name of the facility, many child care providers are able to operate outside of state health and safety standards, yet still receive federal child care assistance dollars. Government funding of child care should only be expended with the assurance that the care is safe and healthy for children.
This is not a new topic for the General Assembly. In fact, just last February I offered a bipartisan amendment that would have better regulated safety at child care ministries. I submitted the amendment two days before the death of 1-year-old Juan Cardenas in a child care ministry here in Indianapolis. But that amendment was voted down in the State Senate with 30 no votes from the Republican majority, one week after the Cardenas tragedy.
Even before that, a 2010 legislative study committee found the disparity in how the state regulates child care troubling, but failed to act on their own recommendations. Specifically, the Study Committee on Child Care found, "The disparity in basic health and safety requirements applying to various types of child care providers creates disparities in basic health and safety risks to Indiana children in child care."
That committee recommended the changes that we are continuing to fight for today - that Indiana law ensure that the basic health and safety needs of all children in child care are met by child care providers, regardless of the type of facility. I've spoken with many child care ministry operators who support standardized regulations. But the Republican majorities in the State Senate and House of Representatives have failed to address this problem.
In the meantime, children have died in unregulated child care ministries. The children of our state need us to act on this now.
State Senator Greg Taylor represents Senate District 33 in northwest Marion County, including portions of Washington, Pike, Wayne and Center townships. For more information on Sen. Taylor and his district, visit www.IN.gov/s33.
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