In my last post I was looking forward to the Overview class on becoming a registered child care provider. It's easy to do your homework on this before taking the class; just check out the information at
(*special thanks to Lissa, who helped me by finding a gagillion sites!)
The primary presenter did a great job of explaining the different kinds of licensing that are required for different situations, and introduced another person from Metro whose job is to oversee/conduct the inspection process that must take place for a home to be certified. He also spent some good time answering questions specific to the registered family care rules and regs. Overall, the class itself was very informative, and I think it gave some people food for thought.
That said, while I realize the state is trying to regulate child care for everyone's safety, (including, I believe, the care provider's), I am disheartened by the loose teacher:child ratios. This type of care allows one person to have up to ten children at a time. TEN! And while it only allows for two children under the age of 2 years, it does allow up to six children under the age of three. Four toddlers and two infants and one caregiver?! Good grief, that sounds like punishment! I think the registration process should include some review of how many children of which ages are coming and if the caregiver understands the magnitude of this sort of work. I'd prefer to see something more specific that takes into account the massive amounts of attention that sort of combination would require, especially when you take into account how much personal development children go through in the toddler and early preschool years in regard to toileting, self-care and self-regulation. It's just amazing.
I was also a bit surprised at the lack of knowledge many people have about quality care who want to go into this occupation. One exercise we were asked to do was to break up into groups and list some things that come to mind when one thinks of Quality Child Care. One person in our group was silent, and it wasn't because we didn't include her. Perhaps she is a treasure trove of information and wanted to let the rest of us figure it out, but I'll never know. A few of the comments from other aspiring care providers left me scratching my head ("Did they really just ask about their electric fence?") or shuddering, as when one person made it abundantly clear that their having to attend a half-day's worth of classes to receive an enhanced compensation rate from DHS was an inconvenience. The classes are all health and safety related and a bare bones minimum to keep the kids alive and in one piece, more or less. Her apathy and lack of concern for the children in her care was disconcerting.
This isn't to discount some of the women who attended (yes, it was as I imagined, all women), or their attitudes. Many of them were obviously passionate about early childhood ed. This was encouraging. So often there is an assumption that a person providing care in their own home is lazy or lacks ambition; the assumption is that watching kids is pretty damn easy. Well, caring for kids is what you make it: it can be just a way to make money, or we can strive to create a quality experience for families.
So, all in all, I came away with the desire to see this business professionalized even more. I'd like to see the standard for licensing raised by, say, requiring at least 4-8 hours of training at the time of the first application, on top of the basic health and safety requirements. The class was a good experience overall, and inspires me just that much more to become a top-notch, quality program. Our children, their families, and our communities depend on it.