We continue to hear about the shortage of quality child care in our state. One article told of the opening of a large day care center in Grand Forks with room for 140 children. My experience is that the best setting for little children is not the large center with multiple caregivers—and high turnover—but home day cares with one, or at most two, caregivers, and no more than 12 children.
My wife, Mary, has run such a home day care for about 30 years now. It's a wonderful environment, and we believe, the next-best thing to being home with mom or dad. The problem is that many home day care providers have been and are being driven to quit because of the continual increase in requirements and regulations.
When we lived in Fargo from 2009 to 2015, Mary was the only home day care remaining in north Fargo by the time we left. One of those who quit told me she loved caring for children, but she couldn't bear all the record keeping and regulations.
It just keeps getting worse. The licensing lady that just left our home announced that in addition to Mary's annual training requirements, now her back-up (me) must complete a one-time 15-hour training course—this to "qualify" me to watch the kids for an hour while she goes to her dentist appointment.
Every year the regulations ramp up even more. Recent years' ramp-ups include annual SIDS training for both of us; CPR being required of the back-up; children should be checked ever 5 to 15 minutes while napping; no blankets or stuffed animals in the crib unless parents sign a waiver, and so on.
It's so expensive. We spent about $15,000 combined in our last two homes to meet licensing requirements—just the right windows for fire code, stairway spindles only so many inches apart, etc.
I could go into Constitutional arguments that child care (and feeding kids) is the responsibility of parents, not government, but for now, I'm making a more modest plea to our lawmakers. Take action to greatly scale back the requirements imposed upon home day care providers. I believe it would do much to alleviate our state's child care shortage.
Home day care is hard work, but a wonderful career path for those who love children, especially for mothers and grandmothers who desire to stay home with their own children or grandchildren but still need a source of income.
I hope that something is done before my wife and other excellent day care providers like her decide to hang it up when the next wave or regulations come down the pike.