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Roger Teegarden, left, walks through the downtown Fargo Street Fair with his wife, Brenda, and family on Saturday. His family doesn’t make use of licensed child care, but Roger said he thinks the regulations should be flexible and give day care providers leeyway, depending on a child’s needs. Photo by Carrie Snyder / The Forum

Fargo OKs new day care rules

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Fargo OKs new day care rules
Fargo ND 101 5th Street North 58102

FARGO - Fargo recently enacted new rules for child care centers with the aim of curbing childhood obesity, but some question whether the regulations, which limit TV watching and the intake of sugared drinks, are really necessary, or enforceable.

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The rules were given final approval June 23.

They list about 10 new requirements that licensed day care centers must meet, among them:

  •  For children 2 and older, viewing of electronic media is limited to no more than 60 minutes a day and the programs must be educational or actively engage child movement.
  •  No beverages with added sweeteners may be served to children and juice may only be given to children 12 months or older. Only 100 percent juice is allowed and children may have no more than six ounces a day.
  •  Kids 1 and older must get 60 minutes of physical activity a day. For children 3 and older, 30 of those 60 minutes must be structured and guided physical activity.

The Fargo City Commission passed the new rules unanimously as part of a consent agenda.

No child care provider spoke for or against the rules as they made their way through the decision-making process, said Commissioner Mike Williams, who voted for the ordinance change.

The ordinance was based on suggestions from officials with Fargo Cass Public Health.

Cheryl Stetz, a health educator with Fargo Cass Public Health, has said the new rules would be monitored as part of annual health inspections already in place for child care centers and she said officials will work with noncompliant centers to help them follow the rules.

Stetz stressed that the idea wasn’t to punish child care centers, but to “move forward with a healthier generation.”

Dave Piepkorn, a conservative who was elected to the city commission in June and took office after the new rules were passed, could not be reached for comment.

However, his views on the new ordinance can be found in the blogosphere, where he is quoted as stating the regulations go too far and cover areas parents should have control over.

Betty Shiele, who has operated her Betty’s Busy Bees child care center for about 28 years, said she views the new rules as an unnecessary layer of regulation.

She said she and other child care providers in the area already practice most of what the rules cover.

“They (regulations) just keep kind of piling up,” Shiele said.

Another child care provider in Fargo expressed a different opinion, stating the new rules should not pose problems for child care centers.

She said some of the kids she sees have teeth full of cavities, an indicator they are consuming sugary drinks at home.

An informal poll of parents attending last week’s Street Fair in downtown Fargo revealed little enthusiasm for Fargo’s ordinance change.

Fargo residents Roger and Brenda Teegarden were at the fair with their three children.

Roger Teegarden said that while his family doesn’t make use of licensed child care, he feels the new rules could hinder child care centers.

City regulations, he said, should be flexible and give care providers leeway, depending on the child and what they need.

Gina and Brandon Allen of Grand Forks were visiting the street fair with their 5-month-old son, Gavin.

Gina Allen said she understands concerns about childhood obesity, but added that Fargo’s new rules seemed like too much government involvement in personal decisions.

“How do you even enforce that?” Brandon Allen said.

Williams said health officials have long worked with schools and child care centers to improve the diets and activity levels of young people and the new rules are a part of that effort.

“One of the goals is to reduce obesity and they (health officials) are looking at ways they can help do that working alongside the licensed day care providers and the schools,” Williams said.

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Dave Olson
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