Potential day care regulation changes worrying in-home providers - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Potential day care regulation changes worrying in-home providers

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KENNEWICK, WA - The Washington State Department of Early Learning is in the beginning stages of a proposal to merge the standards for in-home childcare facilities and childhood learning centers. A proposal some concerned in-home providers say could put them out of business.

The state says the proposal to streamline the standards is to clarify the expectations for early childcare for providers, parents, and inspectors...but a local in-home provider reporter Rex Carlin spoke with has some concerns.

The Department of Early Learning says that for many of those concerns, in-home providers have nothing to worry about.

Vickey Priest has plenty on her plate: as the owner of Teddy Bear Day Care in Kennewick, she has the responsibility to take care of these kids. But she's afraid that soon there might be even more to worry about; that some new proposals to the Washington Administrative Code could be quite costly and possibly put her out of business.

"We're businesses, so we would all - even though we're in our homes, the intent of reading the WAC - you would have to be up to all ADA acts," said Priest.

The American Disabilities Act could be involved, which would require a wheelchair ramp, handles in the bathrooms, and more would need to be installed...quite costly for an in-home provider if that became mandatory.

But the Department of Early Learning says it's way too early to tell if that would be included in the changes, and that public comment will help shape the changes.

"We have a lot of time to ensure that this rule is written in a way that both protects the needs of those who are alternately-abled and the economic needs of the providers," said Frank Ordway, Assistant Director of the Department of Early Learning.

Priest adds that many in-home providers are worried that education requirements for staffing would change, forcing day cares to either go to college and get an Early Childhood Education degree, or close up shop.

"People are not going to change diapers with an ECE degree," said Priest. "That's college credits."

But Ordway says that's not true. He says no position that didn't require one before won't need one in the future.

"There are no new education requirements," Ordway said. "People are reading the education requirements in the draft and thinking that's new. There will be no changes to the education requirements."

Priest added that providers are concerned the state will outlaw older toys that don't have proper labeling or manuals with them, creating more cost for day cares to replace them.

"We are not going to require every toy to be labeled," said Ordway. "We aren't going to outlaw homemade toys. We're not going to require people to go out and buy whole new sets of toys. None of that will be the case."

Ordway says merging these standards for in-home and center care facilities is in its very early stages. The initial public comment and negotiations period will last into the summer he believes, then a more complete draft will be made which will see another public comment period, so it'll be at least a year before any changes are actually imposed.