Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Alabama Ranks 48th in Child Care

Nearly 11 million children younger than age 5 spend an average of 35 hours a week in some type of child care setting. State child care licensing requirements govern the health, safety and learning opportunities for these children. State oversight requirements monitor compliance with state policies.

Most states do little to protect the health and safety of children in child care, according to a report released today by Child Care Aware® of America. We Can Do Better: 2013 Update is the fourth in a series of reports beginning in 2007 that scores and ranks the states on 11 program requirements and four oversight benchmarks for child care centers. 

"Families want their children to be safe in child care. They reasonably assume that a child care license means the state has approved some minimum level of protect ion for children and that the program will promote their healthy development. Our nationwide polling shows that parents also believe there is oversight by the state,” said Lynette M. Fraga, Ph.D., Executive Director at Child Care Aware of America. “However , most state licensing requirements are weak and oversight is weaker. Any grade equating to a “D” or below is simply unsatisfactory.” 

Alabama ranked #48 with a failing grade.

The following were listed as Alabama's weaknesses in terms of the report:
  • Background checks do not require a check of the sex offender registry. 
  • Directors are required to have less than a CDA credential. 
  • Providers are only required to have a high school diploma or GED. 
  • Programs are only required to address two of the specified domain activities. 
  • Group size requirements do not meet NAEYC accreditation standards for any of the seven age groups.
  • Staff:child ratio requirements do not meet NAEYC accreditation standards for any of the seven age groups.
  • Licensing inspections of child care centers are conducted once every two years. 
  • Neither complaint nor inspection reports are online.

"Quality programs make a real different for children,” said Fraga. “However, it’s hard to have a quality program with little training for staff and infrequent oversight. The result is what we have today: a large gap between what parents reasonably assume and expect, and the reality of state policies.”  

To learn more:
Visit ChildCare Aware of America
Download the Entire Report (PDF)
Download the State Report for Alabama (PDF)