Home Day Care vs. CentersThis letter of response has been...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 16, 1995

Home Day Care vs. Centers

This letter of response has been in process since Kevin Thomas' column on May 7, entitled "When We Can't Protect Our Kids." You see, we've been busy taking care of our families, our clients' families and, most importantly, their children. We work long hours and are very committed to our profession. We represent 50 percent of the regulated child care spaces nationwide and we took great offense at Mr. Thomas' comments.

Mr. Thomas states, "As attentive and concerned and probing as I was, I could never be certain of what went on when I wasn't there." He was referring to his family child care experiences.

Well, Mr. Thomas, did you ever visit unannounced? Were you an informed consumer when you made your choice for child care? How could you possibly leave your children if you did not feel comfortable? This borders on neglect, for you are ultimately responsible for the care of your children. Perhaps your title should have been, "When We Won't Protect Our Kids."

The two most recent studies on child care, "The Study of Children in Family Child Care and Relative Care" by the Families and Work Institute and "Cost, Quality and Child Outcomes in Child Care Centers" by the universities of Colorado at Denver, California at Los Angeles, North Carolina and Yale point to an alarming fact: Parents do not know what to look for when choosing child care.

A majority of parents rate a center highly, yet those in the profession rate it as mediocre to poor in quality. The message is clear: The public needs to be informed.

What makes you think that centers are safer than family child care homes? Did you know that many centers have numerous violations (without notification to parents), which exist for years before they are finally closed by the licensing agency? Did you ever ask to see the annual licensing report of your center? Do you know how to find this information? Many family child care providers share this information during the interview process.

You see, we want our parent/clients to be informed consumers. They will then know that the best child care is provided in small groups (one care-giver with five children is infinitely better than two with 21 children), in a home-like setting. You can't get more homelike than in a home.

Did you know that you were breathing a sigh of relief when your child entered a center, yet the provider you were using (if she was licensed) had a more thorough background check conducted on her than the teachers and assistants in that center?

Prior to becoming a licensed family child care provider, we are required to provide a signed release that enables the Child Care Administration (CCA) to access our Child Protective Services files (giving them information about substantiated abuse or neglect charges).

If there are charges in the file, we may not operate a licensed home. In a center, only the director, the board of director members who have access to children and anyone living on the premises is required to sign this release.

Your child may have had a teacher or assistant who had a previous charge for abuse or neglect. This information is not accessible to either the director or the CCA.

We are certain that most centers have skilled teachers and assistants, without substantiated abuse or neglect charges. What we wish to point out is that you may be placing your child in an "institution" which has all the appearances of operating in a way to protect your children, yet appearances can be deceiving. You can never abdicate your responsibility for your child. Become an informed consumer.

The services offered to parents looking for child care and to registered family child care providers in other counties of Maryland should put Howard County to shame.

Apparently, an informed child care consumer is not a priority in this county. Perhaps this is due to the fear that parents will then know that trained, regulated family child care is truly the best environment for children -- and there just won't be enough of us to meet the demand.

Julie Klein

Wafa Sturdivant

Columbia

The writers are, respectively, president and treasurer of the Howard County Family Child Care Association. This letter was also signed by four other members of the association board of directors.

Court Diversity

The Sun's June 16 editorial ("For a More Diverse Circuit Court") indicates either that you are unaware that the names of two women are on the list submitted to Gov. Parris Glendening by the Judicial Nominating Commission or that you do not consider these "female candidates to be worthy of a judgeship on Howard County's Circuit Court."

I wholeheartedly agree that qualified minority candidates should receive every consideration for the existing vacancies on the Circuit Court.

However, your editorial ignores the fact that the list which Governor Glendening has held for nearly two months does include the name of two extremely well-qualified female candidates, Judge Lenore Gelfman and Diane O. Leasure, Esquire.

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