Everyone isn’t doing it.

Nursing homes do it. Hair salons do it. Why shouldn’t child care do it?

What nursing homes and hair salons are doing is being regularly inspected by a governing authority to ensure standards of care are in place and enforced to provide quality customer care. Unfortunately, that is not the case when it comes to child care.

The front page article in this week’s Birmingham News reveals the sad situation that many working families face each day: where to place their child in care while they work or go to school? With nearly half of all child care centers in Alabama being exempt from licensing standards as set forth by the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR), many families have few quality child care options.

Quality starts with a set of standards that are upheld by all facilities providing care to children. When some programs are exempt from standards such as background checks for all staff and staff training requirements, just to mention a few, one is left wondering: who is caring for the children? While it is true that some child care programs voluntarily adhere to even higher standards than DHR’s Minimum Standards, parents far too often assume that someone or some entity is providing ongoing oversight at the facility. Read more about Parents Perceptions in this report.  

Jefferson County Department of Health recently passed new regulations that allow them greater authority when it comes to inspecting the county’s child care centers. This is a step in the right direction. Read more on the regulations.

Such regular oversight provides parents with the assurance that even if their child care center is exempt, at least some basic health and safety standards will remain in effect.

We care about the elderly and our hair at least. If children are our key to a brighter future, then shouldn’t we expect regular inspections for their caregivers and facilities? What do you think?