To the editor:
I read the article in the Great Bend Tribune: “Illegal daycares, complaints on the rise” (Sept. 18 issue). While I understand that the State of Kansas provided funds to be used in training more day-care providers, any unspent funds need to be returned to the State. While the county may have wanted to hire two full-time employees and boost salaries, the proper laws and proper precautions must be adhered to. It is unfortunate that there is a rash of unlicensed daycares popping-up in the region. It may be a sign of poorer economic times than we think. Barton County covers six counties for licensing: Barton, Ellsworth, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties. I have a cousin who is in the day-care business. She prizes her work. She began the old-fashioned way with raising her own kids whom she lovingly refers to as “caring for tiny humans.” She is fully accredited and NOT within this area, but knows that unlicensed daycares are a growing problem. Applicants must have a four year degree and experience in child welfare. As noted, my cousin was lucky enough to meet those criteria due to raising her own kids and living in a bigger town. Sadly, in rural Kansas, some would-be applicants don’t have the hands-on experience and it’s too far to drive to get it, even if it were partially paid for. But, as the Great Bend Tribune article pointed out, it’s a mystery why the KDHE won’t allow the Health Department to implement the required training. Without it, it is sadly a dead end. Anyone having children deserves quality care done in legitimate, licensed facilities. However, in the gaps of rural Kansas, many people may take ‘shortcuts’ to do unlicensed daycares. Too many people think they can do just as good a job, in a ramshackle shortcut manner, not so. Perhaps they can in some instances. However, when you entrust your children to strangers for day care: parents and their kids deserve the very best. Training, background-checks and clean facilities which are monitored are necessary in this day and age. I hope the glitches can be worked out. However, until that occurs, the state money needs to be returned and people need to be wary of dubious daycares and ask questions as to whether the ones you see are currently and properly licensed. It is your right to know and your responsibility to inquire and ask.
James A. Marples