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Child-Care Dilemma

February 12, 1988

Your editorial on the need for child care was most provocative, but there is one area of need that you missed entirely. I refer to the virtually impossible problems caused by the morass of regulations and government controls that surround the child-care providers.

As a consultant to small nonprofit agencies, I have seen these forbidding regulations in action. In one case, I worked for a small day-care center that was managed by a retired teacher with a master's degree in child development. She loved children and thought only to supplement her retirement income by providing a service she loved and was trained for at a price that even the low-salaried parent could handle. But after three years she had taken no salary and had run seriously into debt, mainly because of the constant remodeling she was force to do to keep keep up with state inspectors. What was fine one year was inadequate the next, etc.

At another agency with which I was connected, a shelter for abused women and children, the establishment of a day-care center was considered so these women could establish themselves in the working world before they had to set up their own homes. But the requirements for such a facility were so onerous that at least $100,000 would be required to get it started. Since the agency's entire yearly hard-to-come-by budget was only slightly over that amount, the provision of day care had to be abandoned.

Surely we want to be certain that children have good care, but the regulations imposed make it forbiddingly difficult and expensive to provide such care. What's more, such regulations do not and cannot avoid McMartin Pre-School type scandals.

Having been a working parent myself, I know the insatiable demands on time and energy that exist in those years of life. But licensing of day-care facilities cannot relieve the parents of their responsibilities to listen to the children, to watch their development, to drop-in and look over the situation from time to time; in other words, to supervise the care their children receive.

If parents would take such responsibility, regulations could be drastically pared.

DOROTHEA M. EILER

San Diego

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