Monday, September 5, 2016

Childcare Is Ridiculously Over-Regulated

By Diana Furchtgott-Roth, writing at FEE. Excerpts:
"there’s no better time to read Abby W. Schachter’s new book, “No Child Left Alone: Getting the Government Out of Parenting,” published by Encounter Books."

"Day-care costs are an especially hot topic for the presidential campaign because they have risen 70% since the 1980s. In 31 states and Washington D.C., day care is more expensive than public college tuition"

"Why does child care cost so much in the first place? A Mercatus Center study by Diana Thomas and Devon Gorry last year found that regulations such as caps on care-worker-to-child ratios and staff-certification requirements are major factors in increasing the cost of child care.

Schachter provides shocking examples of these regulations. Arizona has 114 pages of regulations, and Michigan has 329 pages. Those range from the required spacing between the coat hooks and mattresses to the type of food that can be served.

In several states babies are not allowed to be swaddled when they sleep, to prevent sudden infant death syndrome — even though there is no evidence that swaddling is connected with SIDS. This makes babies fussier, requiring additional day-care staffers.

Bureaucrats seem particularly preoccupied with what children eat at day-care centers. That’s not surprising to anyone who has observed the change in government nutrition guidelines over the years. For instance, meat and eggs were in vogue in the 1950s and 1960s, out in the 1970s through the 2000s, and now back in again. Butter and whole milk were taboo, but now they’re part of “good cholesterol.”

So it doesn’t seem as though anyone should believe the bureaucrats any more. But that doesn’t stop them from issuing countless food regulations. Day-care centers run by Head Start have to follow rules issued by the Department of Agriculture, including requirements to provide foods such as cow’s milk, even if parents prefer that children not drink cow’s milk.

Day-care providers in Pennsylvania, Schachter’s home state, are required to throw out uneaten food and wash out containers in case the child might consume hazardous material later on.

Just as Obamacare drove up the price of health care, government regulation is driving up the price of day care and school lunches.

The nanny state follows children all the way through school. On the one hand, school systems weigh children and send home letters if they think they are overweight. Yet on the other hand, they limit recess and activities such as dodgeball and tag because those games might cause accidents. Reasonable people might think that the school systems might see a link between banning physical activity and the increase in obesity. But bureaucrats don’t seem to have made the connection."

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