Lawmakers propose tougher day-care rules

SOUTH BEND, Ind.--Jump into the world of day-care providers and you'll quickly learn not all childcare centers are created equal: so how do you pick the right one?

"Close to home, someone that I can depend on for consistent care," said Julie Wilcox, mother from South Bend.

"Location and then also reviews,” said Gary Heaggans, father of two.                 

But what about licensing? Lawmakers are calling for unlicensed day-care caretakers to receive more extensive training. The concern comes from a rise of deaths in Indiana's day cares over the past five years.

An investigation by the Indianapolis Star found 15 of the 21 day-care deaths since 2009 happened in unlicensed or illegal facilities. Nine of those deaths happened just last year.

“You've got registered ministries, you've got licensed home centers and you also have non-licensed so there's lots of options for a family,” said Beth Lovelady, director, Growing Kids Learning Center.

Lovelady says when parents are choosing the right care-check three areas.

Safety- Is there a single main entrance and is it locked? Are there closed-circuit TV cameras in all classrooms and are all teachers trained in CPR and first aid?

Teaching-- How does the center find and keep qualified teachers? What training and skills do the caregivers possess.

Licensing -- Is it licensed with state inspectors?

"When they come in they're going to review the classroom, check the materials in the classroom, check the environment, check the safety, check our kitchen, and check the teacher's requirements and educational experience and background,” said Lovelady.

Even if Indiana steps up its training regulations, the decision ultimately comes down to a parent's gut feeling.

“I think as a parent personally I have a lot a more confidence in leaving my child in a place where I know that the staff and such have been well trained,” said Wilcox.

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