Washington’s child care center requirements and oversight are among the top in the nation for keeping children safe and healthy, according to a new report from Child Care Aware of America. The report, issued Thursday, ranks child care center licensing requirements in 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Department of Defense. Washington ranked third in the nation, only two points behind New York, for the strength of our child care center licensing requirements and monitoring.
Washington earned notice for conducting comprehensive background checks, one of only 13 states to do so. A comprehensive background check is defined as including a fingerprint check against state and federal records, a check against the child abuse registry and the sex offender registry.
Among the other report findings:
- Washington is one of only nine states to require CPR training for all staff, rather than just one person on the premises.
- Other areas where Washington met the standard include:
- Initial training for child care providers.
- Learning activities that address specific developmental domains
- Following safety practices in 10 specific areas and prohibiting corporal punishment.
- Encouraging involvement and communication with families.
- Requiring state child care licensors to have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or related field.
- Making licensing complaint inspections and information available to families online (www.del.wa.gov/check).
The report made recommendations on how Washington could strengthen center-based child care:
- Require more education for child care providers. Currently, they must have a high school diploma or equivalent.
- Require 24 hours or more of annual training on specific topics. Washington currently requires 10 hours of annual training.
- Reduce staff-to-child ratios and group sizes.
- Increase the number of times per year that licensors conduct monitoring visits to at least four times per year. Currently, DEL child care licensors monitor child care centers at least once every 12 months
- Hire more licensors to lower their caseloads to 50:1 or fewer. Currently, Department of Early Learning center licensors have an average caseload of 63 centers.
Child Care Aware also issues regular rankings of states’ family home child care standards. Washington ranked second in the nation for the strength of our family home requirements and oversight in 2012. View that report.
The Department of Early Learning licenses and monitors more than 6,000 child care facilities around the state.