Wichita Parents who are reassured because their child care provider is registered with the state should think again, cautions a group of child advocates.
The National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies is giving Kansas and 14 other states a score of zero for their standards and oversight of family child care homes.
The biggest concern in Kansas was a two-tiered regulation system that the group feared might confuse parents.
Providers who are registered with the state merely fill out a checklist for standards. They are not inspected and are visited only in response to complaints. Such facilities may care for as many as six children, including the provider's.
The other type of provider, a licensed home, is inspected yearly by city and county health departments. These facilities can care for up to 10 children and must meet health, safety and space requirements.
"We believe that every child care provider, whether it's a center or a home, needs to be licensed and inspected and held to certain standards," said Linda Smith, executive director of the Virginia-based referral agency.
"Our work with parents shows that parents believe 'registered' means something," she said. "They are generally surprised to find out that it doesn't mean there's been an inspection or a background check or that the person has any training to do the job."
But Joe Blubaugh, spokesman for the Kansas Department of Health and Human Services, said that while the state doesn't inspect every child care facility, it does do background checks on all registered providers.
"They're painting a picture much bleaker than it really is," he said.