A couple from Adel went to the statehouse Wednesday to urge legislators to pass a bill that would require more in-home day care providers to register with the state and be subject to regular inspections. Travis Hoover told lawmakers of the 2012 death of his baby.
“We lost our little daughter, Annie,” Travis Hoover said. “She was six months old. We actually buried her on her six-month birthday and she was at an in-home…day care center that was unregistered.”
Under current state law, an in-home day care that serves five or fewer kids is exempt from all state oversight. Some home day care providers are backing a bill that would require even those smaller day cares to be inspected. Kay Strayhorn, who cares for children in her Urbandale home, told legislators she wonders if unregistered homes are meeting safety standards.
“We wouldn’t know, because there’s no inspections being done,” Strayhorn said.
In the past, Democrats have pushed to expand state oversight of small in-home day cares, but Republicans have resisted. But this year, Peter Cownie — a Republican from West Des Moines — is backing the bill to boost regulation, after hearing the Hoover’s story.
“You know, my wife and I have a 20-month-old and it certainly hits home with me and I think it’s something that we should take a look at,” Cownie said.
But Cownie warns legislators have to figure out how to pay for more state inspections of day cares before his bill has a chance of advancing. Child care centers in Iowa pay a licensing fee, but Danielle Oswald-Thole with the Iowa Child and Family Policy Center cautioned against assessing new fees to in-home day cares.
“Home providers are some of the lowest paid professionals in the state,” Oswald-Thole said. “Many of them barely make minimum wage.”
The bill to expand registration requirements for small in-home day cares passed an initial hurdle in the House Wednesday. A three-member panel signed off, sending the bill to the House Commerce Committee.