Northwest NEWS

June 29, 1998


Child Care provider concerns

Local day care providers are all deeply saddened by the events of the past weeks concerning the death of 16-month old Charlotte at the hands of a child care provider. When something this tragic occurs, it causes us all to ask, "Why did this happen?" There are no easy answers. And even though this was an isolated incident, it has cast a negative stigma on all day cares.
   Local child care professionals would like to increase the public's awareness about the positive aspects of the vast majority of child care providers and the quality and standards they must meet in order to operate an in-home licensed facility. The responsibilities of this profession are numerous.
   First of all, there are many laws governing day cares. Before the state issues a license, there are standards that must be met by the future providers. These range from facility standards, educational requirements, character qualifications and safety standards, to nap/rest requirements, capacity limits, mandated reporting, dietary guidelines, renewal standards, professional standards, open door policies for parents, and policy and procedure requirements.
   Secondly, a child care provider is an extension of the child's home and family. For this reason, parents shouldn't expect anything less than what the child is experiencing in their own home. Often the child's environment is enhanced by being placed in a day care home. A child's life is shared by parents and providers in order for the day care experience to be successful.
   Thirdly, each child is unique and special. When caring for these children, providers must wear many hats. The provider assumes the role of parent-figure, protector, nurse, counselor, educator, caregiver, recreational director and effective decision maker.
   Providers are also responsible for the healthy development of children while in their care, which includes the physical, intellectual, emotional and social well-being of each and every child. Day care providers are not babysitters-they are trained professionals who take pride in the valuable service provided to families.
   Parents need to be very cautious when selecting a day care. Parents may obtain information from the Office of Child Care Policy concerning any previous information regarding providers. The Child Care Resource and Referral can also offer assistance to parents. The provider chosen should share similar life values that the parents hold. The provider should also demonstrate a positive attitude and, above all, demonstrate a love for children and for their profession. Parents should feel free to communicate openly with their provider. If a parent has a valid concern or complaint about a provider, it should be reported to the Office of Child Care Policy.
   Lastly, not just anyone can become a quality child care provider. It takes a special person(s) to be able to maintain the standards identified above. And equally important, at the end of a ten- or twelve-hour day, the provider is the same individual that maintains a quality level of care to their own families.
   We wish to express our deepest sympathy to the Wetzel family.
   Washington State Licensed Day Care Providers
   Jerilyn Borman, Rita Pearsall, Becky Barker, Ruth Ericksen, Sharon Boggs, Kathy Avery, Sharron Goodrich, Shari Anderson, Tara Harvill, Robin Lewellen, Janie Lloyd, Barbara Sharp, Carol Candler, Sylvia Mierau, Lynn Harris, Jacque Atchley, Kathy Stobbe, Ann Elzey, Debbie Foster, Tammy Hedin, Connie Thomas, Peggy Keraim, Connie Hooper, Martha Snider, Nancy Dalen, Michele Geinger