A two-year old Democratic initiative with the goal of inspecting all in-home day cares in the state has fallen short of its goals. The then Democratic-controlled legislature approved the plan and Governor Culver signed it. Representative Mary Mascher, a Democrat from Iowa City, sponsored the legislation and says the goal was to professionalize home day cares.
“There’s the perception that if a home is registered the state has come in and inspected and that’s not true,” Macher says, “You know there are more regulations for dog kennels in the state than individuals who take care of our children.” The law directs the Department of Human Services to gradually start inspecting home day cares annually, with a goal to license them all by 2013.
D.H.S. spokesman, Roger Munns the legislature did declare its intent, but he says it takes a lot more than intent to make something like this happen — it takes money. “This continues a discussion that’s been around ever since I’ve been here and that is how should the state handle in-home child care providers. And truth be told there hasn’t been very much political energy to do that,” Munns says, “We do robust licensing of centers and we have a dedicated staff to do just that.”
Munns says new license fees brought in $160,000 and he says that wouldn’t even begin go cover the cost of inspecting all home day cares. So, he says the D.H.S. is doing its best to inspect more homes. “We attempt to visit an ever-increasing percent of them. This year the target is 60% of them, last year the target was 40% and we made it to 37%,” Munns said.
Munns says without more money the goal of inspecting and licensing all home day cares is out of reach. And it appears the chances that the Republican-controlled House would appropriate more money are slim.