Montana Govt Control Of Child Care
By Tim Ravndal
MT Bill HB113 has been introduced into the Montana Legislature by Rep. Robert Farris-Olsen (D) – HD79. The bill is aimed at revising the Montana Child Care Act.
The bill will establish a change in licensing categories and requirements that will establish new requirements for background checks of all childcare applicants and personnel working in the facility.
The law will also extend rule making authority of the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services. (MDPHHS)
The MDPHHS claim in a fiscal note that there will be no additional cost to the state as the department already performs the provisions contained in the bill.
The purported purpose of the legislation is to ensure that children requiring day child care, be provided such food, shelter and safety guidance, direction, nutrition, comfort and learning experiences that commensurate to their ages and capabilities.
Also the law provides for the safeguard of growth and development of the children by facilitating their proper physical and emotional, malnutrition, social, emotional and cognitive development.
The Legislature is tasked with stepping in to ensure that the number of children living in homes or households where both parents work or where single parent homes are provided state licensed providers only.
Due to a dramatic increase over the last decade in parents needing quality child care the legislature believes that the availability of quality licensed child care is critical to self sufficiency and independence of Montana families.
The law includes reference to a growing number of mothers who have young children and work out of economic necessity.
The change in the law pushes to take away child care facilities that are currently registered with the State of Montana and put in place a reference to “Licensed Facilities” only.
It is purported that too many facilities are far short in providing quality child care arrangements required for children in need of child care facilities.
The change in the law will give the state the ability to better promote day child care for the purpose of improving quality and coordination of state programs, including increasing resources for child care services.
Diversity of quality child care services for all children and families will be the guiding principles for the state to enhance the funded programs for all facilities that will receive funding or assistance in providing child day care.
Some may see the changes in the law a way to assist families where financial resources are not sufficient to pay for quality child care.
Others claim the law changes will enhance the welfare programs run by the state to expand the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services.
Governor Bullock and members of the Democratic Party have openly stated that the legislation will not affect immediate family child care.
In reality, the legislation expands state influence over education and child care through substantial funding increases.
Although the legislation purportedly does not include or affect child care by relatives and individual child care providers, the facts are not yet on the table.
Once government is provided an open door to your home and how you raise your child, there is legitimate concern that this legislation will open the door even further.
At the end of the day, the people of Montana may see a Department of the State of Montana gain further ability to control and manipulate part of family care that falls under the umbrella of a state run community family.
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