New regulations crack down on unlicensed child care programs

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — New laws effective this month are forcing some daycare providers to meet new health and safety standards. Child care experts say the regulations will help reassure parents that basic health and safety standards are being met.

The regulations affect unlicensed daycare programs that accept Child Care and Development Fund vouchers. That includes registered ministries, exempt home programs, and exempt centers.

The laws were approved two years ago. Half were imposed July 1, 2014 and the other half July 1, 2015.

“They became effective July 1st, so the providers are expected to be in compliance. Our goal though is to work with programs to help bring them into compliance if they’re not yet meeting the standards,” Melanie Brizzi, Director of the Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning, said.

Every program must now have a written policy describing how it maintains safe conditions in the facility. That policy must be posted and provided to the parent of each child as well.

Children also must have both active and quiet play everyday and enjoy some time outdoors, weather and health permitting.

Drinking water must always be available to children and appropriately times snacks must be provided.

The laws also cover group size and adult-child ratios, plus continuing education for those adults.

Still child care experts say parents should be asking questions and doing research about their provider.

“You just can’t tell by looking that these key standards are being met once you leave and drop off your child, so looking for a paths to quality provider is an easy way for families to do that and now if you’re a family with a CCDF voucher, you have that assurance that those providers are meeting those standards,” Brizzi said.

There are about 1,000 unlicensed child care programs in the state — 324 of them are in Marion County, according to the Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning.

State officials say they’ll be doing at least one annual visit to each of those programs and parents can read those inspections online. You can find inspection reports, Paths to Quality providers, and read the full law online.