Stricter Daycare Regulations?

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In the past, Health Department regulations applied only to child care facilities with five or more residents. Now the state wants them applicable to everyone who cares for as few as one child.

Lauderdale County Supervisor Jimmie Smith said it would hurt a lot of poor people.

"This one's going to do that because there's a lot of poor people out there that's got somebody maybe keeping their one or two kids and they're not charging but maybe $25 a week," said Smith. "Maybe if they were going to a day care center they'd maybe have to probably pay $75 to $100 a week."

The proposed new regulations would exempt relatives, but require others to buy a $100 permit, have themselves, their employees and even their volunteer helpers to be fingerprinted at $50 each and undergo background checks. The home would be subject to inspections by the fire and health departments.

Barbara Henson, a licensed day care center owner for almost 30 years, said parents with small children would be the ones most affected.

"Most day care centers take children from one year and older or like we do, two years and up," said Henson. "But those children who are from birth to one to two years, parents will have a hard time finding licensed care for them."

The proposed regulations were to go into effect Nov. 10. Dr Margaret Morrison who heads the Health Department's Meridian office said the effective date will now be delayed until at least January.