Kentucky Rises In Rankings Of Child Care Regulations
A national child care advocacy group has released an updated report that shows Kentucky rising significantly in its rankings.
The National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies’ “We Can Do Better” scores and ranks the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense (DoD) on 10 regulations and five oversight benchmarks. It is an update to NACCRRA’s 2007 report, which was the first of its kind.
Kentucky ranks 36th in the report, which was released earlier this month. In 2007, NACCRRA ranked Kentucky 49th.
Secretary Janie Miller of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services said she is pleased with the improvement.
“While we continually strive to do more to ensure that children in child care are safe and properly cared for, it is reassuring that this report indicates we are on target with our efforts,” she said. “When we can provide children with quality care, they thrive, and their parents have a better opportunity to succeed.”
Two CHFS agencies directly serve child care programs.
The Division of Child Care (DCC), within the Department for Community Based Services (DCBS), promotes quality child care through planning and initiatives that support the improvement and expansion of statewide child care services and resources. DCC also oversees the state’s voluntary child care ranking program, STARS for KIDS NOW.
The Division of Regulated Child Care (DRCC), within the Office of the Inspector General, licenses and investigates complaints against child day care programs, residential child caring facilities and child-placing agencies. DRCC also certifies and investigates complaints against certified family child care homes.
According to the report, Kentucky fully meets four of NACCRRA’s 10 regulation standards, including recommendations that centers require parental involvement and communication and allow parent visits. The standards also require staff to have orientation training and training in first aid, CPR, fire safety and other health and safety issues.
DCBS Commissioner Patricia R. Wilson said her office considered NACCRRA’s original study in 2007 “a baseline report.”
“While we knew we were doing several things right, the study gave us several recommendations to build on,” she said.
Kentucky improved its minimum child care regulations as a result of the 2007 NACCRRA report.
One part of the new licensing regulations is the requirement that increases professional development hours to 15 for child care centers and to nine for certified family child care homes.
Another regulation requires criminal background checks to include prospective employees’ previous state of residence.
Providers meeting the state’s minimum requirements qualify for participation in the state’s voluntary child care ranking program, STARS for KIDS NOW. The system uses a scale of one through four STARS to identify levels of quality. All STAR levels surpass the minimum certification and/or licensing requirements that all programs must meet.
CHFS Inspector General Sadiqa Reynolds said DRCC’s annual, unannounced inspections and immediate reaction to alleged problems in child care centers can assure parents that the state is doing its part to protect children when they cannot be with family.
“Whenever possible, we work with child care operators to improve facilities’ services,” Reynolds said. “But we will not hesitate to act if our findings indicate that children may be in harm’s way because a facility does not meet licensure standards.”
Reynolds said that complaints and investigation reports are available to any interested parent or citizen.