Many Virginia childcare providers are unlicensed. No one inspects their sites for safety or quality. No one is trained on health, safety, or safe sleeping practices.
Elly Lafkin went with recommendations from friends when choosing her childcare provider. This woman is a grandmother, a mother, someone she trusted, but was not licensed.
Unfortunately for Lafkin and many others, a licensed center was out of the question. "They have waiting lists, they are expensive, and scheduling Monday through Friday 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. does not fit every mother and father's schedule in this area," Lafkin says.
Licensed providers are required to have training and are monitored at least twice a year by social services to make sure they are complying with regulations. Unregulated child care flies under the radar. Unlicensed providers can have up to six unrelated children plus their own. But, If you have seven kids of your own, "13 children right there, in one home, under one provider's care. And Virginia is allowing that. That is within Virginia state law," Lafkin says things need to change.
Daycares associated with churches also can qualify for religious exemptions for licenses. This means these large child care facilities inside churches could potentially have providers who are untrained, unmonitored and without proper background checks.
"We require licensing for hair cutters, dog groomers, barbers, everyone of that nature, to be a CNA you have to have a license. Why are we allowing our children to be with providers that are unlicensed?" asks Lafkin.
Not only are the current requirements unsafe, she says the current laws just don't make sense. "What happens if there's a fire? Why are these related children considered ghost children? Wouldn't they need to be evacuated as well? How can one individual evacuate six children under two at one time? It's not realistic."
She is working hard to spread the word. "Don't wait till you're a statistic. I wish i had seen on the news, i wish i had read in the newspaper, the dangers of unlicensed, unregulated care. My daughter might still be here."
Lafkin lost her daughter to SIDS, which has many unknown causes, but this lead her to discover more within the child care system in Virginia. She is offering safe sleep seminars which will be free to anyone interested.
Contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also find more detailed information on Virginia's child care regulations at the Virginia Social Security website, http://www.dss.virginia.gov/family/cc/index.html. Virginia Social Services says the best way to find a good daycare is to look on its website. There, they have listed all violations and resolves for licensed centers.
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