When young Jessica McClure fell down a well in the back yard of her family child-care provider, Americans were riveted by the unfolding drama. But even as we celebrated the heroic and successful effort to rescue her, little was made of the fact that this tragedy should never have occurred. As your editorial pointed out, Jessica, like thousands of other children in America, was injured at an unregulated, unlicensed child-care facility.
So during this election year, when much is being made of the child-care "issue," we cannot forget that while the availability and cost of child care are pocketbook concerns for every parent, licensing and safety standards are life-and-death issues for our children. Currently there are no national standards or guidelines for child-staff ratio, group size, or child health or safety programs in family, group or center-based care.
Appropriate health and safety standards are an essential component of any national child-care policy, and of all the child-care initiatives under discussion, the Act for Better Child Care is the only proposal that offers adequate provisions to ensure that the child care available in this country will reduce the risks of injury and illness for children.
RICHARD M. NARKEWICZ, M.D.
American Academy of Pediatrics