TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Unlicensed child care facilities in Kansas could soon face a large fine from the state.
A bill has been introduced that would give the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) the ability to fine child care facilities up to $1000 if they are not properly licensed.
Currently, if a child care provider watches two children for more than 20 hours per week or watches more than three children, they must be licensed. But unlicensed child care providers are becoming a growing issue in the state because little is being done to stop them.
“What we want is kids in Kansas, if they are in some form of daycare, that they are in a safe environment,” said Senator Molly Baumgardner, (R) Louisburg. “When mom and dad go to work they want pick up their child in just as good health as they were when they dropped them off.”
Emily Barnes owns and runs a licensed child care facility in Kansas, Barnes Child Care. She says she understands that becoming licensed is time consuming and expensive, but she says it’s absolutely necessary.
“When you come into the community and you have the support of other providers and you participate in the trainings, it seems less overwhelming and in fact it’s worth it when you look at it from a small business standpoint,” explained Emily.
Reva Wywadis, Executive Director of ChildCare Aware of Easter Kansas says the fine is not meant to be punitive. She says unlicensed providers may be unaware that they are breaking the law and will not be fined if they agree to become licensed or to stop offering child care.
Opponents of the bill worry about the cost of getting licensed. Some also say that this will lower and already low amount of available child care in the state.