I am writing in response to the passage of Senate Bill 26, Utah Child Care Licensing Act. This bill not only punishes women seeking safe, dependable child care, it punishes the business owners operating such child care. For every single licensed provider in the country, 10 unlicensed providers operate out of their homes. Licensed family child care has been proved to give higher quality care, equal to the percentage of quality care found in centers. Unlicensed homes are not listed on the resource and referrals, which makes it difficult for parents to access. Unlicensed homes cannot write off business expenses, which on the average amount to 75 percent of their income. Unlicensed homes cannot obtain insurance for their business due to liability issues.
Providers in licensed homes, according to a study by Ellen Galinsky, (Families and Work Institute, 1994), are more likely to be sensitive and responsive to the needs of children. This is, unfortunately, difficult for some people to understand because "regulation probably connotes bureaucracy and governmental interference rather than the personal and safe arrangement with a warm, caring, communicative provider."Most significantly, this bill will punish the children. It opens up a licensing loophole that was closed as recently as last year. Julie Davies, president of the Utah Federation of Business and Professional Women, states, "SB26 does nothing to improve the situation for providers, parents, businesses, licensing officials or children. In fact, it worsens the situation. It does, however, enable a few people to make money off of children while putting the children at risk of abuse and neglect. And it shows a pitiful lack of understanding and respect for the importance and challenges of nurturing children - whether the job is performed by parents or providers." Under this bill, registered child-care homes cannot be closed, no matter what serious health and safety situation might be found.
Proponents of the bill argue that this will cause parents to take more responsibility for investigating their child-care arrangement. Do they honestly believe that by virtue of parental authority, the parents can do a better job than an inspector from the Department of Health? Do they think that parents don't want their child care inspected?
Furthermore, this bill eliminates the 20 hours annual training (including current CPR/first aid) now required of family child-care providers. This appears to be good enough on the surface. After all, you don't need training to take care of kids, do you? All you need is a good heart. However, countless studies link training to sensitive and responsive care. Government and businesses in Utah have funded training specific to family child-care providers for many years. The cost to providers is minimal; hours are arranged for their convenience. If we take away training and enforcement, we take away the heart of licensing.
This system has protected providers, parents, and most importantly, children, for decades. With SB26, 95 percent of currently licensed providers will not need to be licensed. Furthermore, one person can care for eight children, including three infants, plus some children of her own, all without a license. Hopefully, the governor will veto this bill. If he does not, Utah will literally have the worst family child-care regulations in the United States.