Monday, March 12, 2012

All Day Cares Should Be Licensed

Yesterday, John Tuohy of the Indianapolis Star penned an article about the status of Indiana's faith-based and non-faith-based day care centers.

The conclusion: many faith-based day care centers don't have the same standards for safety that other day care centers must follow.

The concern: more state regulation raises the specter of state control over what can and cannot be taught at the schools.

It's yet another front on the First Amendment battlefield of separation of church and state.  I say church and state isn't the issue.  The issue is child safety and what are these unlicensed faith-based centers to protect precious youngsters?

Whenever we start talking about law on this blog, I always remind you that I am no lawyer.  So, let's get that out of the way yet again, but the way I understand the Constitution is that the First Amendment says Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or religion or the free exercise of those two things.  Thus, if the state stays away from what these faith-based day care places are teaching and keeps with what they are doing to protect our children, then I don't see what the problem is.

Lobbyists like Micah Clark tell Tuohy of a doomsday scenario where government regulations extend to what is taught within the school.  Furthermore, he talks about cost issues.  My question is, if a day care center cannot spend the necessary money that needs to be spent to keep kids safe, then why should it be allowed to stay in business anyway?  Some of these regulations will be costly, but wouldn't you want your day care provider to spare no expense in keeping your children safe?

Clark's argument falls flat as well because, as Tuohy points out, there are currently regulated faith-based organizations that say the state has no interest in what's being taught at the day cares.  I don't believe that the state could possibly regulate every curriculum at every day care in the state when it already has public schools and preschools to worry about.  

How much different is the regulation between licensed and unlicensed facilities?  Tuohy says that the regulated facilities must follow 192 rules and that unregulated facilities must follow just 21.  What's scary is that Tuohy's report says that the number of unlicensed faith-based facilities now exceeds the number of licensed ones, 730-601.

Of course, I'm sure it's more complicated than flipping a switch and saying that everything should be regulated, but I don't think there's anything wrong with setting minimum standards for what a day care center is and what it should do everything possible to make sure the children it services are safe.  That leaves the decision on curriculum up to the center and to the parents that use it and gives parents the peace of mind that someone is looking out to keep their youngsters safe and secure.

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