Daycare Licensing Bill Falls In Idaho House Over Concerns About New Regulations

Jan 29, 2020

Idaho may soon be out of compliance with federal daycare standards after state lawmakers rejected a bill that would’ve required more training for childcare workers.

Right now, Idaho mandates daycare employees take four hours of training each year. The bill that failed on the House floor Tuesday would’ve bumped that up to 12 hours, which would’ve been available online for free, according to House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel (D-Boise).

Under the bill, all daycare workers would’ve also had to pass background checks, achieve safety certifications and direct them to place young children on their backs while sleeping to prevent sudden infant death syndrome.

“As a former commercial daycare and preschool owner, I find this onerous,” said Rep. Steven Harris (R-Meridian).

Some of the other 43 lawmakers who voted against the bill say Idaho is trying to cut regulations, not add to them. 

But Rep. Fred Wood (R-Burley) pushed back against that line.

“We’re talking about small children here that we’re attempting to protect and I don’t think, Mr. Speaker, that this is an overreach of the state at all,” Wood said.

During the floor debate, Rubel said 95% of daycare owners were supportive of these changes in a survey that was sent to each operator in Idaho.

Other requirements the bill would’ve imposed include buckling up a child’s seatbelt if they’re transported in a vehicle as currently required under state law, as well as mandating the daycare business have an emergency response plan.

Supporters could try to run a similar bill later this year. An Idaho Department of Health and Welfare spokeswoman said staff would be meeting Wednesday to discuss their next steps.

If these changes aren’t made to comply with federal standards, Idaho would lose out on about $2.5 million in federal funding over the next year or so, according to Rubel.

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