Increasing regulation driving childcare providers out of business in Washington

States in the country are going through a childcare crisis — parents cannot find or afford childcare services.  Childcare providers in Washington are speaking out. They blame increasing regulatory oversight as one of the main reasons they fail to operate or even leave the industry. Regulations are also the reason why new providers are reluctant to enter the market.

Nancy Stevenson, admits the changes in the regulations code in Washington have caused the most hardship for child care. Nancy Stevenson, who has operated Wunderland for 23 years, says she has never seen a regulatory structure as damaging as the current one;

Never has there been such a disconnect between providers and DCYF (Department of children, Youth and Families).We are lumped together with juvenile detention, schools, a boys’ home. We’re all under the same policy, it’s one rule for everybody.

Another Provider, Tessa Andrews, is also worried that regulation might cause her to shut down. According to Tessa, the shift of focus to the Early achievers program has increased rules for providers. The early Achievers program is a standardized method of early childhood education with state-mandated requirements for each childcare provider.

One of the mandates includes the number of toys a provider should have per kid they serve which might be a high number.  Interesting enough, in the beginning, the program was voluntary. But when nobody signed up for the program, the state attached subsidies to participation.

Staffing requirements are additionally always shifting. Many childcare workers are required to have an Early Childhood Education certificate despite experience.

I’ve been here 20 years and now I’m in night school two days a week to get the piece of paper, even though we get the annual training every year.~ Angela Jones (Wunderland Site Manager)

Overall, one size fits all policy has not worked well according to childcare providers in Washington. The fact that these regulations keep shifting presents an even bigger issue. Providers agree that regulation is important for setting high standards. But like any other business, childcare providers will not operate well if saddled with too much regulation.

This should be a lesson for Minnesota lawmakers about what is ailing the childcare industry and how to fix it. Burdensome rules are not the way to go, even if they are attached to subsidies.