Support for enforceable child-care licensing regulations that address health, safety, fire and supervision standards.
The League of Women Voters of Idaho joined with other organizations in the early 1970s to lobby for an effective child-care licensing law. The existing law, which contained health, safety, fire, and supervision standards, had no enforcement clause, rendering it virtually useless. League position was based on an earlier League of Women Voters of the United States study and consensus supporting child-care services as a part of equal access to employment and education. There was an assumption in the national position of minimal enforced standards in all states. This lobbying effort was unsuccessful.
In 1979, building on local League interest in child-care regulations, the League of Women Voters of Idaho conducted a statewide survey of parents, providers, and officials. A concurrence statement supporting “enforceable licensing regulations for daycare centers” was adopted in 1980 in an attempt to give the League an effective voice in pending child-care legislation. League assumption was that the existing law would remain in effect and that enforcement provisions would be added, e.g., changing “may” to “shall.”
Continuing lobbying efforts, culminating in 1987 with the passage of totally new child-care legislation, demonstrated that the 1980 concurrence was incomplete and did not fully express League position. Implementation of the 1987 child-care legislation has demonstrated that more needs to be done in the area of child-care regulation. Delegates to Council adopted this expanded position in May 1988 to enable the League to speak to needed improvements.
In 1993, the Idaho Legislature passed a law requiring four hours of training for child-care directors and staff. Several cities in Idaho operate their own licensing for child care, but this does not give children equal protection through uniform statewide standards. Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is participating in a three-year project with the American Public Health Association to improve health and safety standards and practices in child care. The League position does not address issues of access or affordability. These issues will continue to come to the fore in Idaho.
The League of Women Voters of Idaho believes that all children in the care of non-relatives outside the home deserve to be adequately protected by statewide licensing standards. Minimum standards should apply to all child-care facilities, with more stringent standards available depending upon the size and type of operation.
The League believes that health provisions should cover such areas as sanitation, food preparation, illness, and immunizations as well as record-keeping. Recognized applicable fire and building codes should be the foundation for safety and fire standards. Standards of supervision need to take into account the different needs of different ages of children. Appropriate standards for child-care providers should cover character, background checks, and education or training.