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Arlington County Considers Eliminating Higher Standards For Child Care Centers

9:40 PM, Mar 20, 2013   |    comments
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ARLINGTON, Va.  (WUSA9) - Child care advocates are angry over a proposal in Arlington County that they say would take standards back some 30 years.

To help close a budget gap, County Manager Barbara Donnellan has proposed to get rid of Arlington County's Ordinance 59, and the Cline Care Licensing Office which regulates the county's child care center regulations. That would leave only the state of Virginia's regulations, which many say are substandard and do little to protect children.

The national child advocate organization Child Care Aware gives Virginia an "F" for its regulations.

Arlington County enacted its own standards for child care centers back in the 1970s. They are much stricter than the state's, ensuring that even small home day cares meet specific teacher child ratios, and teacher qualifications. such as CPR.

Sandra Redmore is the director of the Clarendon Child care center, which has a long waiting list. She's worried if standards revert, Virginia's quality and safety will also suffer. Virginia requires no regulation of home daycare center that have 5 or fewer children. That's no inspection, no requirements, no standards for anything. Not even background checks for caretakers.

Arlington Board member Mary Hynes doesn't like the proposal, which would cut only about 300 thousand dollars from Arlington's annual budget.

"Considering our large budge, that's a drop in the bucket, but you've got to find the money somewhere," said Hynes. She said the board must figure out what to cut to fill the budget gap, or raise taxes.

Sandra Redmore is so determined to fight this cut that she's started a petition and already has some 600 signatures. She's also signed up to speak at the county's next budget meeting on Tuesday.

"Wealthier families will always be able to seek out quality child care. I do believe the children from low income families will be hurt the most," said Redmore.

Arlington, along with Fairfax County and Alexandria also have higher daycare standards than the state.

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