New requirements for licensed child care

LONOKE, Ark. (KTHV) - If your child is in day care, you could expect to see a few changes coming soon. New research and information has led to possible new requirements for child care facilities.

It has been about 30 years since any changes have been made to the requirements. Some of the proposals include, no behavior charts meaning no more stickers, changing the child to staff ratios and not allowing trampolines or ball pits. Existing child care facilities say they just don't have the money to do all that.

With every cry, someone at Day Camp Learning Center is there to console.

"I have three kids," said Day Camp Learning Center President Gina Gilliam. "They were all raised here."

Gilliam started her child care facility 23 years ago. She has 11 employees, and together they take care of about 100 children.

"There was such a need in this area," said Gilliam.

Gilliam says the child care business is tough. There is a lot of paperwork and it changes constantly. She says she does see a need for some of the proposed changes, but some of them are unreasonable.

"It would be wonderful if we could have a one to four ratio, but who is going to pay for it," said Gilliam.

"While we want to set the stage for the very best, we also want to be mindful of the realities of our state," said Department of Human Services Division of Childcare and Early Childhood Education Director Tonya Williams.

Williams says the changes are based on new research and information in child development.

"While we want to set the stage for the very best," said Williams. "We also want to be mindful of the realities of our state."

Existing child care facilities will not have to implement all the changes. Some will be grandfathered. One change is to require directors to have a bachelor's degree. Directors already employed will not have to follow that new requirement.

"It will only apply to people coming in and part of that is based on we see a tremendous amount of turnover in the division of child care, early child care education," said Williams.

Williams says there is more to it than just keeping kids safe.

"We need to create learning spaces and environments that really nurture their brain development and their developmental skills and prepare them for not only education and school success but for life success," said Williams.

And that is Gina Gilliam's goal too.

"There has got to be a better way," said Gilliam.

"It is not about we cannot do it," said Williams. "It is about how can we do it for young children."

The Department of Human Services met Thursday morning to go over the proposed changes with child care providers and parents. Some tweaks will be made. Human Services is trying to have the new requirements go into effect by early next year.


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