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Indiana day care panel wraps up without backing plan

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A state committee studying Indiana’s child care system has wrapped up its meetings without making any recommendations on possible law changes for legislators to consider.

The panel of lawmakers, child advocates and state officials had its meeting adjourned Tuesday by its chairman before taking any votes, The Indianapolis Star reported.

Committee chairman Rep. Timothy Wesco, R-Osceola, said he didn’t believe the group had reached a consensus on the wording of proposed bills, which would have been put before the General Assembly for its session starting in January.

Proposals that had been discussed by the Committee on Child Care included setting minimum staffing levels and new health and safety standards for day care providers.

Ann Murtlow, the president and CEO of the United Way of Central Indiana, said the lack of committee action was “disappointing and perplexing.”

The United Way agency has made improving early childhood education one of its top goals.

“This was a kind of a run-into-a-brick-wall meeting, and we don’t quite understand it,” Murtlow said. “The committee was proposing things that we think were critically necessary to protect our children.”

Recommendations from the study committee aren’t required for lawmakers to act, but such endorsements often boost support for bills.

The committee had discussed requiring operators of unlicensed day cares that receive public money to undergo training or ensure they had adequate staffing.

Indiana already requires home day care providers who look after six or more children not related to them to be trained in health and safety precautions and follow strict safe-sleep procedures. But homes with five or fewer are not subject to state scrutiny.

A recent Indianapolis Star investigation found that 15 of the Indiana’s 21 day care deaths since 2009 occurred in unlicensed or illegal facilities.

Committee member Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, said he believed it might have reached a consensus with a little more work and expects legislators will take up proposals next year.

 

 

Posted 10/16/2013