I am an early childhood educator who works with preschool children at a center in Windham. I am writing in response to a column in January about the importance of high-quality early childhood education (“Early childhood education is as crucial to military readiness as jets and ships,” Jan. 3).

I attended a public hearing in front of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee on Jan. 17 about proposed changes to child care regulations. There are three proposals being considered by the committee this session — L.D. 1423, L.D. 1474, and L.D. 765 — that will decrease the quality of programs available to parents, allow businesses to legally take advantage of parents desperate for child care, and put children at risk.

Some in favor of deregulating child care argue that our industry relies heavily on good recommendations and word of mouth, and that poor practices would result in unhappy families and therefore a drop in business. This might be a valid argument if we were talking about a product, like a chair. If your business makes chairs that break when sat upon, word would spread that your product is of poor quality and not as many people would buy them.

But we are talking about children. If a childcare facility has practices that put children at risk, there are consequences far greater than a broken chair and a failed business.

We are talking about jeopardizing the healthy development and physical safety of children who cannot speak for themselves, who cannot ever undo whatever trauma they may experience due to bad business. What happens to them at this young age stays with them for life. It is not acceptable to rely parent complaints or a lack of referrals to make a childcare center improve its practices; one child hurt is too many.

Heather Marden


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