The new rules imposed by the Minnesota legislature have child care facilities and private home day care providers scrambling to meet new requirements.
Life is messy. Every parent can commiserate once the little bundle of joy arrives. That new baby smell doesn’t last long. From spit up to blowouts, taking care of a baby is, well, down right disgusting at times. For child care providers, the diaper change just got a whole lot more complicated. New health and safety rules for diaper changes require latex gloves, safety glasses, individual bags for disposal and a bleach clean-up.
Minnesota law now requires, “(1) surfaces that come in contact with potentially infectious bodily fluids, including blood and vomit, must be cleaned and disinfected according to Minnesota Rules, part 9503.0005, subpart 11.” Imagine if we had to meet the new health and safety standards while managing infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. The very thought is enough to strike fear into the heart of even the most fearless provider.
The new rules imposed by the Minnesota legislature have child care facilities and private home day care providers scrambling to meet new requirements. The latest round of legislation is meant to bring Minnesota in line with the 2014 Federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) which is the primary federal funding source for financial day care assistance for low income families. The legislation, signed into law by President Obama, updated the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act (CCDBG) and will affect all child care providers in the every state.
The key focus areas of the law are:
- Health and safety
- Consumer choices
- Equal access
- Enhancing quality and supporting the workforce
Health and safety standards will require annual inspection of all child care facilities. Currently, inspectors are required to evaluate day care facilities every two years. The increased inspection requirement gives the state authority to hire more inspectors as per federal law which demands reasonable caseloads for licencors. Enhancing quality and supporting the workforce at taxpayer expense on top of subsidizing child care is expensive. James Koppel, who serves as assistant commissioner for child and family services, said it will cost the state $58 million just to get up to speed with the federal benchmarks this biennium.
All providers in the state must attend a standardized training conducted by the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
Health and safety standards also require a written emergency preparedness plan for a litany of disasters, including an active shooter. The emergency plan is required for evacuation, sheltering in place, fire, natural disaster, intruder and any other threatening situation that may pose a hazard to children. The written plan must be submitted to the Minnesota Commissioner of Child and Family Services.
Background studies with fingerprinting are required for all adults as well as children over the age of 13 who reside in the household where the child care is being provided. Many independent child care providers with older children find this to be particularly invasive and egregious. For some providers, the added stress and invasion of privacy isn’t worth continuing in the business. According to an article by the Duluth News Tribune, even a simple bobby pin left on a bathroom counter by a teenager can be seen as a choking hazard by state licencors and result in a $200 fine.
According to an independent child care provider of 19 years who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, the new rules will have a negative impact on her older daughters who reside in her home and on her home-based business. “The new guidelines are ridiculous,” she said. “All providers want a safe, loving environment for the children we take care of but this is going over the top.” The outspoken provider reports that she is receiving more and more calls from desperate parents trying to find childcare. “Providers are leaving the business and that is putting added strain on families who are desperate to find quality care for their children,” she said. “The fastest way to drive any provider out of business is by making it difficult for us to stay in business. If you ask me, we are purposely being driven out of business.”
This provider may have a point. In 2013, the DFL used heavy handed tactics to force through legislation requiring forced child care unionization. The measure failed after providers organized to fight against the legislation. Efforts continue to try to convince the state’s home-based providers to become part of Child Care Providers Together, which is affiliated with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). According to the anonymous provider, the quickest way to ensure unionization of all child care is to force the independent home providers out of business. “Once we are out of business,” she said, “the only alternative families will have will be large child care centers and those affiliated with the school district.”