People had long been complaining about the state of childcare centers in Idaho, one of the lowest ranked in the nation, where smaller care centers are not even required to have a working telephone or smoke detector and where the child-staff ratio is far from being ideal.
In response to the complaints and dissatisfaction of the population, the Idaho Senate voted unanimously to approve a daycare licensing bill. Senate Bill 1112 was extensively amended by the House, causing many senators to pose strong objections to the House changes. But because the bill was better than what the state currently has, the Senate approved it despite their regrets about the House amendments.
The Senate Bill 1112 as amended makes it the policy of the state of Idaho to establish a minimum statewide system for the protection of children in daycare facilities. The Bill changed the minimum number of children required for licensing from four to seven and some of the financial burden for obtaining a license had been shifted from the provider to the state.
Some sectors in the Idaho Senate claimed that the amendments to the Bill changed the focus from the children to the providers. While the previous focus was on how to make daycare safe for children, the focus now is how to make daycare easy for providers. But this is refuted by the proponents of the amendments. They claim that the amended Bill provides for many protections and safeguards for the children that were non-existent under the previous legislations.
For example, amendments to Section 39-1109 of the Idaho Code now requires applicants for daycare center license to install an adequate fire and smoke alarms, a functional telephone located on the daycare premises during the hours of operation, and adequate fire extinguishers. There provisions were non-existent before the amendments were incorporated.
Provisions were also included to provide additional protection to the children who are under the care of a daycare center such as safeguards on firearms or other weapons which are stored on the premises of the daycare center and provision of safety measures with regards to pools, hot tubs, ponds, and other bodies of water within the daycare facility premises.
There are also added provisions on the allowable children to staff ratio that are intended to provide better care of the children in the facility. Only adults providing direct supervision to the children shall be counted as staff for purposes of computing child-staff ratio.
The amended Senate Bill provides for stringent health standards for daycare facilities in the state ranging from food preparation, diaper changing and sleep areas for the children, observation of personal hygiene practices, source of water supply, cleaning supplies and storage of hazardous materials, and prohibition for smoking or alcohol consumption in the premises of the daycare facility.
Members of the Idaho Senate foresee more changes to be adopted on laws governing childcare in the state but they feel that they need to pass the amended version because it is the best possible law for the state under the present circumstances.
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