New regulations passed by the Massachusetts Board of Early Education and Care will now require all child care providers – public or private – to follow new strict guidelines covering everything from academics to child hygiene.
The Boston Herald reports that the new regulations are part of the state’s plan to place day care centers under the auspice of Massachusetts Department of Education. In a typical government-knows-best mentality, Early Education Commissioner Sherri Killins told the Boston Herald:
I don’t believe there’s anything frivolous or overburdening in the new regulations. We’re not asking anyone to do anything that’s not in the best interests of high quality care for children.
The new regulations require day care workers, which as of January will be referred to as “educators”, to help kids brush their teeth after meals, devise evidence-based curriculum, and submit written reports on the social and emotional development of the children in their care. The article also notes that the new rules are causing some child care providers to reconsider expanding their businesses, despite high demand.
But child care providers in the Bay State aren’t the only ones feeling the Big Brother heat. The Associated Press reports that a mother in Michigan is under fire for watching her neighbor’s children in the morning as they wait for the school bus to arrive.
Each day before the school bus comes to pick up the neighborhood’s children, Lisa Snyder did a favor for three of her fellow moms, welcoming their children into her home for about an hour before they left for school.
But the state saw her favor as a back channel attempt to offer unregulated child care services.
Regulators who oversee child care, however, don’t see it as charity. Days after the start of the new school year, Snyder received a letter from the Michigan Department of Human Services warning her that if she continued, she’d be violating a law aimed at the operators of unlicensed day care centers.
However, when Governor Jennifer Granholm was informed of the incident, she instructed the Department of Human Services director to work with the legislature to amend the law.
But the incident in Michigan shows the problems with further state interference in early education and care. Amy Cowan, a mother who also looks after her neighbor’s children on occasion, told the AP:
I applaud the lady who takes in her neighbors’ kids while they’re waiting for the bus. She’s enabling her peers to go to work and get a paycheck. The state should be thankful for that.
There is a growing movement that would like to see the federal government increase its role in early education and care, much of which is premised on the idea that working families are having difficulty finding such services. But more than three-quarters of 4-year-old children are already enrolled in some form of early education or care program, and for families who have trouble affording private care, the federal Head Start program operates in every state.
As momentum builds to implement President Obama’s “zero-to-five” program, which aims to increase state preschool programs, policymakers should consider the adverse consequences of increased government regulation.