New state regulations worry some child care providers

New state regulations worry some child care providers
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Taking care of little kids is a big job. That’s why Washington state’s Department of Early Learning put in new rules to strengthen the quality of early childhood education.

Those rules are supposed to go into place this August, but already childcare employees are worried about handling them. Palisades Christian Learning Center Director Denise Ellenwood said one big requirement is employees have to earn college credit toward an early childhood education certificate.

“I am nervous for our center and other centers,” Ellenwood said.

Child care staff have five years to finish the required classes and the number of courses will vary depending on the person’s position.

That may seem reasonable, but Ellenwood said it is a major requirement, in an industry that already struggles to keep people.

“With these minimum wage increases and state regulations, we are having to put the pressure on our families and that is something that we do not want to have to do,” Ellenwood said.

These rules don’t just impact child care centers. Smaller, licensed in-home day cares are under pressure, too. Connie Fuchs runs one in Spokane from her home and said she’s worried about the new regulations, too.

She recognized the need for safety rules and quality caregivers, but said it has to be balanced with putting kids first.

“They’ve gotten too many regulations in the in-homes and centers. It makes it harder to be with the kids. You’re doing more paperwork than being able to be with the kids,” Fuchs said. “I think we need to get back to the foundations of being with the kids, kids first.”

Putting kids first is something Ellenwood agrees is a priority.

“I do feel that we have to be a voice for our children and our families and we really need to go back to the drawing board for what’s best for our child care centers,” Ellenwood said.

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