Friday, September 25, 2009

Stricter childcare licensing rules set

Call line for complaints starts in November


By TONY EVANS
Express Staff Writer

Louie Christensen enjoys a moment of reflection at The Owl House daycare on Myrtle Street in Hailey. New state regulations and a complaint monitoring system could affect the way some daycare businesses in Blaine County operate. Photo by David N. Seelig

Some of the 26 childcare operations in the Wood River Valley will have to make adjustments due to stricter licensing regulations handed down by the Idaho Legislature.

Representatives from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare visited Hailey City Hall on Wednesday to present information on the new regulations, which go into effect Jan. 1, 2010.

"Some are in this business for the children. Others are in it for easy money at home," said Tammy McKinney, Idaho State Training and Registry System childcare consultant.

Three important changes are adult-to-child ratios, group sizes and background check requirements. The regulations also call for the presence of CPR-trained childcare providers and expand the list of violations that could result in revocation or denial of a childcare business license.

Childcare providers who care for six or fewer children at any given time do not need to be licensed.

There are 14 licensed daycare businesses in Hailey, eight in Bellevue and four total in Ketchum and Sun Valley. All are required to meet state requirements, but only Hailey has a city childcare ordinance, in effect since 2002. Hailey Fire Marshal Mike Baledge said city officials are reviewing the new legislation to see if they may need to amend the city ordinance.

Baledge said childcare businesses in Hailey are already required to abide by most of the new standards.

"The city has always had pretty strict standards regarding daycare and now the state is catching up with us," he said.

The Department of Health and Welfare has also developed a centralized complaint system to track all daycare complaints and concerns in the state. Beginning in November, citizens are told to call 211 to register complaints.

Anyone with questions about Hailey's childcare ordinance or the new state regulations can call Baledge at 788-3147.

Tony Evans: tevans@mtexpress.com




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