Unlicensed child care `becoming endangered’ | PostIndependent.com

Unlicensed child care `becoming endangered’

Summit Daily News Photo/ Brad OdekirkLake Dillon Preschool and Early Learning Center Director Sheri Seimarco lends a hand to preschooler Taylor Vandewege. "My opinion is that academics aren't appropriate for children under 6. We explain to parents that more important than academics at preschool age is the child's social and emotional development," she said.

Parents face one main distinction right from the get-go when they’re deciding about child care: licensed or unlicensed care.

“Of the two, unlicensed care is generally becoming endangered,” said Lynn Renick, director of Garfield County Social Services in Glenwood Springs. “There’s no way to monitor this type of care. People take children into their homes, but without licensing, there’s no way to tell if there’s proper staffing, and if safety issues are addressed.”

Still, Kathleen Forinash, director of Eagle County Social Services in Eagle, points out that unlicensed child care isn’t illegal – as long as providers follow certain criteria.

“According to Colorado state law, all license-exempt child-care providers may provide child care in their home to one other family’s children besides their own at the same time,” Forinash explained.

But she added that it’s difficult for social services agencies to know exactly how an unlicensed provider relates to children or deals with safety concerns.

“The provider may switch the TV on all day and tell the kids to be quiet,” she said. “It’s tough to regulate.”

State licensing doesn’t ensure quality either, though certain standards must be followed in order for a particular child-care provider to be licensed.

“We’re really pushing for providers to get licensed,” said Carolyn Reihe, director of the Rural Resort Region Consolidated Childcare Pilot Program in Vail, a state-funded child resource agency.

Reihe’s agency serves Pitkin, Eagle, Garfield, Summit and Lake counties, providing high-quality, affordable access to up-to-date child-care information. Reihe only gives information out about licensed providers to parents.

“Getting licensed is not all that difficult,” said Reihe. “It’s not much of a funding issue for a provider, and demonstrates that providers have a certain number of hours attending workshops and classes in child development and child care. It also demonstrates that they renew those hours on a regular basis.”

Contact Carrie Click:

945-8515, ext. 518


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