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Proposals could complicate Alaska day care, critics say

May 14, 2018

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Some Juneau day care directors are worried that proposed regulations would reduce capacity and worsen the shortage of affordable Alaska child care.

The state Department of Health & Social Services has proposed multiple changes to child care center licensing regulations. Some changes are related to compliance with federal child care standards. Others address the food child care workers can consume on the job, KTOO Public Media of Juneau reported Sunday.

Gold Creek Child Development Center Director Gretchen Boone said the proposal that worries her would lower the maximum group size and child-to-teacher ratio allowed for toddlers and infants. Gold Creek would lose two spots in both its infant and young toddler rooms.

Boone and Assistant Director Colleen Brody said losing the tuition from those spots would result in a loss of more than $4,000 in revenue per month, which could force them to cut teacher positions.

“Ideally we would try and balance it without cutting anybody but $4,000 is a lot of money,” Brody said.

The Child Care Program Office did not respond to requests for comment on the changes.

Gold Creek has 60 children and about 16 staff members. It’s one of Juneau’s largest child care providers. But there’s demand for more care, Brody said.

“We have, currently, 97 families on our waitlist,” Brody said. “So we have 51 infants and 46 toddlers on our waitlist and that’s a lot of infants and toddlers that don’t have care.”

Samantha Adams recently closed her child care business in Juneau after 12 years due to increasing overhead costs. She said she was losing an average of $30,000 per year.

“I’m of the opinion that regulation and oversight is really crucial to ensuring that those programs are keeping kids safe,” Adams said. “At the end of the day, I think it’s very important to have regulations.”

But Adams said she feels many of the proposed changes go too far.

“If you’re going to implement regulations that limit our ability to make money, absolutely there should be some financial backing for those mandates,” she said.

Adams, Boone and Brody recently signed a statement with a group of eight local child care providers concerned with the proposed changes.

Adams wants providers have input on the decisions.

“We as stakeholders in the state of Alaska for the child care workforce, we should be at the table when these are being proposed — before they’re ever proposed, before they ever go out to public comment,” she said. “I think a lot of us were feeling overlooked because they don’t do that.”


Information from: KTOO-FM, http://www.ktoo.org

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