A legislative panel is recommending new restrictions for in-home daycares in hopes of keeping sex offenders away from kids. Current state law bars registered sex offenders from living within 2000 feet of a school or daycare, but it doesn’t prohibit them from being inside a daycare.
Representative Mary Mascher, a Democrat from Iowa City, says that makes no sense. "We’ve known of situations where home daycare providers had a son or a daughter who were on the registry and the son was taking care of the children," Mascher says.
Mascher and a bipartisan group of lawmakers propose a law that would make it illegal for a registered sex offender to be on the property of a daycare center or in an in-home daycare. "This says you can’t be in that home when the children are there," Mascher says.
A daycare operator who knowingly allows a sex offender on the property when children are there would face charges, too.
The panel of lawmakers is also recommending a ban on spanking in home-based daycares. Corporal punishment is already prohibited at licensed child care facilities, but Mascher says the same rule should apply to in-home settings.
"There are better ways to disclipline children. Time outs work much better," she says. "We know as small kids that corporal punishment is not an effective use of discipline. It doesn’t work."
According to Mascher, the ban on spanking would not apply to those disciplining a young relative. "If you’re taking care of your own children or you’re the grandparents of kids and you have standards about corporal punishment, that’s fine," Mascher says. "But if you’re taking care of someone else’s children, then there would be no corporal punishment allowed."
If this no-spanking rule she envisions becomes law, Mascher says daycare providers would have to post notice of the rule in their home. An adult could also face abuse charges if they spank a child in their care — if the proposal becomes law. The full legislature must review these recommendations and the governor must approve them before they’d become law.