Commissioner calls on tougher look at daycare regulations - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Commissioner calls on tougher look at daycare regulations

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CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) -

They're popping up on Craigslist by the dozen - people willing to watch your children in their homes. But in situations where fewer than six children are being watched, Virginia doesn't regulate the provider at all. Now, one Chesterfield County leader wants that to change.

Virginia doesn't do background checks on any of the providers caring for fewer than six kids. And they face no regulations at all.

Child Care Aware gave Virginia a zero for the state of our child care, because of those two things. It's enough to have Chesterfield Planning Commissioner Russell Gulley asking, "What do we do?"

"We do background checks on coaches or the people that come in contact with those children," said Gulley. "So now you have children in a daycare environment and there are no background checks that are done on people caring for children in their homes."

In our Skype interview, Gulley told me some counties have special permission from the General Assembly to regulate home daycare. He would like to see that in Chesterfield too.

Some daycare providers say it might just be too much. If they can't afford new licensing, they might just get out of the business, leaving parents with nowhere to take their kids.

But others say it's about time- the industry needs some guidelines.

Alicia Mayes has always been a stay at home mom, but when she needed to provide for her own kids, getting paid to take care of a few more just made sense.

"I think we have about a dozen people in my neighborhood alone that babysit from home," said Mayes. "I could probably point out three of them on this road alone. And I think half of them are licensed."

Alicia isn't licensed, but she understands why county leaders see a need for regulating all caregivers. 

"There are a lot of care providers that are going unlicensed and off the record and it's like you can't monitor that," said Mayes. "You don't know what they're doing. You don't know how many kids they have. They could have a dozen kids in different rooms and not even watching half of them!"

But the issue isn't an easy one to tackle. Right now, the planning commission can control things like whether a facility has a fence around it to keep kids safe - anything related to land use. But, they cant' control what's going on inside the home.

Any regulations or supervision there would have to come from the General Assembly. Commissioner Russell Gulley thinks it needs to be done, because most people don't have the resources to find out what matters.

"If the people that are caring for the children have no criminal background record, that they don't have any older children in the house who may have been in some kind of trouble with the law and so all of those people I think are slipping through the crack," explained Gulley.

Of course, regulations wouldn't come without a price tag. Gulley says he'll take the issue to his local delegates, that it just makes sense.  

"It may not gain any traction, but for me, I think it's an issue of safety to protect the children in these environments," said Gulley.

There are three localities in Virginia that have permission to regulate daycares in homes. Gulley wants Chesterfield County on that list.

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