SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — New federal rules requiring states to publish vetted complaints against day care providers will leave many South Dakota parents in the dark.
That’s because the federal rules only apply to registered day care facilities in South Dakota, where registering with the state is voluntary for in-home day cares with 12 or fewer children, the Argus Leader reported .
South Dakota permits more children to be under the care of unregistered and unlicensed in-home facilities than any other state in the U.S. In Sioux Falls, only half of the nearly 300 day cares in the city are registered.
The federal push for transparency is part of a measure to improve child care and safety standards. Under the new rules, staff at licensed day care facilities must complete criminal background checks and the facilities must undergo inspections every year, the results of which will be posted online with verified complaints.
South Dakota will have to enforce the new rules beginning Sept. 30. Jessica Tyler, an official with the state’s social services department, noted that home providers have the option of being registered in the state.
In Sioux Falls, officials have withheld records on child care provider quality and kept information about revoking licenses secret. After Marsy’s Law was approved last year, Sioux Falls officials removed records that could interfere with the new protections for crime victims to make them inaccessible to the public. The addresses where crimes were reported were part of those withheld records.
Parents and guardians are now restricted from looking up crimes reported at Sioux Falls day care centers.
Jay Nichols, spokesman for Child Care Aware of America, said South Dakota needs to work with Sioux Falls to make more information regarding the quality of day care providers available to the public.
Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com