Federal daycare proposal calls for mandatory background checks
Changes to federally subsidized daycare programs may soon be approved by President Obama, after passing final Congressional approval earlier this week. It’s expected that the President will sign the changes without any concerns after they passed in Congress with strong bipartisan support.
The modifications to the Child Care and Development Block Grant program call for yearly inspections of daycare centers, and safeguards to ensure that every employee is trained in first aid and has had a thorough background check. Parents would also be given more time to find alternative daycare for children if their incomes rose above the qualifying amount. Right now, children can be kicked out of their programs or disqualified from assistance within a month; the legislation would extend that to at least one year.
If enacted, the percentage of federal funds that daycare centers allocate to improving their programs would rise gradually over time.
It’s unusual for both sides of the aisle to simultaneously support an education initiative like this one, but the changes to federal grant program for child care are a long time coming. We have stringent standards for the teachers in our K-12 schools when it comes to the people we allow on campus – with many schools now requiring state ID from all visitors to check for sexual predators — yet there is not much federally to protect our youngest early childhood students. Even this legislation is certainly not sweeping. It only applies the mandatory checks to child care programs that apply for and accept federal funds. It’s a step in the right direction though.
As the merits of universal preschool continue to gain steam, the rules surrounding how these institutions are run will (and should) get stricter in order to keep students safe and stable in the vital early years before Kindergarten starts.