State to relax home child care laws



    The House Health and Human Services Standing Committee recently approved legislation to reduce the regulation of in-home child care.

    Sen. Leonard Blackham, R-Moroni, said he hoped to “get government off of the back of the people,” when he sponsored the bill in January. He said many rules and regulations were forcing many day care providers out of business or to take their businesses underground.

    Amendments to the version of Senate Bill 26 going to the House floor will change inspections and reinstate the requirements for child care certification. Another amendment would limit the amount of children under two years in an unlicensed home to four per household, including those belonging of the child care provider.

    The original bill stated that a residential child care certificate was needed for providers taking care of four to eight children. During the committee process this provision was removed and added as an amendment before the bill went to the House floor.

    Parties with feelings toward the bill include providers wanting regulation, those wanting no regulation and those who want a middle ground, said Rep. Ray Short, R-Salt Lake. Short said compromises in the bill are designed to “reach middle ground between all parties involved.”

    Even though both the committee and sponsor told the Associated Press that they feel the bill was a “good compromise,” there are still those who oppose the bill.

    While some state oversights have been corrected, others have been overlooked, said Rep. Mary Carlson, D-Salt Lake. Carlson said she was most concerned with the ratio of children to parents.

    “(Providers can) watch four to eight children over two-years-old without a license. I think that is too many,” she said.

    Carlson said she doesn’t think adequate concern is being displayed for the children’s safety.

    “If there are complaints with procedure or policy, let’s look at those and not increase the number of children (in a home).”

    Safety was an issue when the original bill came to the Senate committee in January. Originally the bill only required one announced inspection each year. Under the new version, providers would be notified by mail that their inspection could occur anytime during the 90-day window stated on the notice.

    “(The department) can live with the new policy,” said Capt. Bill Brass of the Salt Lake County Fire Department. This policy will allow inspectors to take care of serious health and sanitation concerns, as well as those that are potentially dangerous, Brass said.

    The bill gives providers two options if inspectors discover a hazard. Providers can choose to correct the action and expect an unannounced follow-up visit, or they cannot make the correction and inform the parents of children involved in their program.

    Chris Blake, a representative of Sen. Blackham’s office, said providers breaking the law will be caught. The inspections by appointment allowed under the previous bill would have given providers time to take care of serious problems before inspections, and then continue with violations after.

    Blake said with the amendments added and possibly more changes as the bill moves to the floor, the “ideal of self and parent regulation, (instead of government regulation) will be maintained.”

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