Pitfalls Of Unlicensed CareIn your coverage of the...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 13, 1994

Pitfalls Of Unlicensed Care

In your coverage of the Donnelly case in Anne Arundel County on Jan. 26, the fact that Margaret G. Donnelly was an unregistered provider was not mentioned. In all the other media coverage, this fact was very prominent.

There can be no comparison between registered care and unregistered care. The state of Maryland has some of the most comprehensive regulations in the nation. The registration process is a very rigorous one that only those committed to the field would endure.

Why then are unregistered providers outnumbering the registered providers 2-1 in of Maryland? Because the parents keep them in business. Things can be much easier for the parents with unregistered care. The unregistered providers are not required to limit the number and ages of children in care, and they can admit children into care without the required medical forms and when they are ill.

They usually undercut the prices of the registered providers who report and pay taxes on their income. Unregistered care has traditionally flourished in the community through word of mouth -- the nice lady down the street watches children. It has not been until the last few decades that there have been regulations governing those who choose the child care field.

In order to offer quality child care, the provider must have retraining and resources at her disposal. Registration offers both. There are not enough registered child care positions in the state of Maryland to accommodate all the children and many parents are faced with the choice of using unregistered care or having to give up the very job they need to support their children.

Some parents do not realize the difference between registered and unregistered care. Parents must begin to demand registered care for their children. Registered care will not guarantee your child will receive the best quality care; however, you will be guaranteed that your provider, her home and all adult members in her household have met the minimum requirements in the state of Maryland.

Parents are the most effective quality control for child care. They are in the home every day, and should have a good relationship with their care-giver. If you see too many children ask your provider. If you see too many infants in her care, ask. Ask what did my child do today. Did they paint, draw, build with blocks or sit and watch television all day?

Unfortunately, too many times I have seen the complaint process used as a revenge maneuver when a child is terminated from care; and for cases that should have been investigated, there had been no complaints, hence no investigation and the parents just move on.

As I close this letter, I must wonder how many parents used Mrs. Donnelley's illegal child care and left without filing a complaint that would have resulted in an investigation that could have closed her down a long time ago. Better yet, had she been registered with the state, she would have been subject to inspections and the fact that there are inspections may have discouraged the alleged activities that are now being investigated.

It is the parents' responsibility to ensure that they have the best care for their children.

It is the state's responsibility to enforce the laws and regulations governing child care.

It is the child care provider's responsibility to satisfy the parents and to comply with the state's regulations.

Mary Zaleski

Baltimore

The writer is president of the Maryland State Family Day Care Association.

Reform Overdue

The Anne Arundel County chapter of United We Stand America announces its support for abolishing the Legislative Scholarship Program in accordance with Senate Bill 145. United We Stand America joins efforts with Common Cause/Maryland, the League of Women Voters of Maryland, the American Association of University Women and other organizations to abolish this program.

Each year, millions of dollars of state money are given out by Maryland legislators as scholarship awards to students. In 1994, these awards will total more than $7 million. By law, students must have financial need to qualify for a scholarship, but it is up to the state senators and delegates to ultimately decide who will receive funds. Studies show that, quite often, money has been awarded to students with no financial need because these students are relatives, children of staff members or children of supporters of the legislator who awarded them the scholarship.

The amount of money awarded to most students is very small compared to the cost of education, as low as $150 per year. With small increments, the legislators can give awards to more people. Studies show that a person who received money from a legislator is very likely to vote for the person in the next election. In essence, our legislators are using the taxpayers' money to buy votes, and by awarding small amounts of money, they can reach as many people as possible.

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