Eric Weddle, writing for the Lafayette Journal & Courier has a good article on the rash of daycare deaths in Indiana and the efforts in the General Assembly to increase regulation of day cares.
There have apparently been 31 deaths at day cares since 2009 and 21 of them have been at unregulated day cares. One issue is the fact that a day care doesn’t have to be licensed if the provider is caring for less then 5 unrelated kids. Church affiliated day cares are another blind spot in the system.
I’m not sure there will be a huge appetite to do much about this problem. None of our legislators want to see kids dying at day cares. But, social services take a lot of money and that money doesn’t tend to yield a lot of immediate economic benefits. Even if we add additional rules, there has to be money for enforcement. The regulatory agencies would have to be able to detect a day care and know when it changes in a way that brings it within the scope of regulation.
Day cares in general are an unfortunate innovation and necessity of modern society. It used to be you had a parent at home or lived in and around extended family that watched after the kids while the parents worked. Of course, in times past, kids died a lot more for all kinds of reasons. So, modern society is probably more good than bad if you net it out. Still, if jobs pay enough to allow functional one income families, that probably would be optimal.
But, as to the immediate problem, my suggestion (and maybe something like this already exists) would be a registration and certification program. Create an easily searchable day care registry and an additional certification program. A family sending their kids to day care would probably be aware that the fact the day care was not on the registry was a major red flag and would have an extra level of comfort if the day care jumped the quality assurance hoops necessary to be certified. Perhaps a small extra level of information by requiring unregistered day cares have customers sign a consent form indicating that they had been advised that this was an unregistered day care and they, nevertheless, wanted to send their kids there. The disclosure could be easily ignored but you could attach some fairly brutal penalties to a violation if a kid was hurt and the parents had not signed a consent to have the kid supervised at an unregistered day care.