A church in an Iowa City suburb hasn’t given up its fight with the Department of Human services over the order to close its daycare. The Tabernacle Baptist Church runs Cornerstone Christian School, which was found in violation of at least 20 state childcare regulations some time ago. The agency’s Roger Munns says it’s not just trivial items that failed to meet the standard. If you’re accepting pay to care for other people’s children, Munns says you should have staff trained in CPR and how to recognize child abuse. He says medicine should be in places where “little fingers” can’t reach it, and a plan for dispensing it so the right kid gets the right medication, as well as having an emergency contact number for each child — all examples he says are important things and requirements Cornerstone has not lived up to. The church says it runs a religious school, not a daycare, but state regulators don’t see it that way. Just as “if it walks like a duck, walks like a duck and advertises like a duck,” then it must be a duck, Munns says the same thing is true with childcare centers — if it has a certain number of kids, is open a certain number of hours per day and charges money to take care of other people’s children, it’s a childcare. After inspectors told the operators of the church operation to correct the problems, they returned again and again to find they hadn’t improved, and finally ordered the childcare operation to shut down. Munns said the department doesn’t use regulation as punishment but as an education tool, telling people what to do to keep kids safe, and almost without exception, daycare providers who realize what needs to be done to make kids safe are eager to do it. The church pastor has claimed DHS wants to close the church, but the agency says it only insists the childcare operation follow rules that apply to every daycare provider in the state. He says regulators can’t understand why anyone would drop their kids off in a place that’s not safe.
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