Accusations of a big brother approach and micromanagement laid claim to frequent criticism that overregulation is rampant in New Mexico, particularly when it comes to education. Proposed regulation changes to child care licensing and child care assistance by the Children Youth and Family Department prompted tense reactions, even from an area legislator and a city councilman, at a town hall-style meeting held in Roswell Monday evening.
“We’re 36th in the nation in the quality of our regulations,” Dan Haggard, director of CYFD/Office of Child Development, said.
The proposed changes take on an array of forms from general revisions of definitions to new licensing and qualification requirements. Haggard said the recommendations were generated from credentialed bodies including child care providers, licensing entities, state agencies and the CYFD Office of General Counsel. Most in the room viewed some of the proposals as outlandish include the requirement that outdoor play equipment be intended for public use and necessitating children be supervised in restrooms.
Many worried about the potential change in the title of ‘provider’ and ‘caregiver’ to ‘educator.’ Some were concerned with how the government would define ‘educator,’ and others asked how this change in terminology would be interpreted in the future.
“I think it’s a little harsh for a nursery worker to be called a child’s educator … By implanting the word educator you’re supplementing that everybody have a degree,” Marilyn Wagner, co-director at Generations of Learning said. “New Mexico is 47th in the United States in education. To put more regulations on day cares is not going to bring it up.”
“We’re the third most regulated behind nuclear power and medicine,”said Jeri Key, co-director at GLC.
A man who dubbed himself a parent, grandparent and foster parent correlated loopholes in regulations with added costs. “You’re going to have people making choices to leave their kids at home rather than be at a day care. You just created a problem that you say you desperately want to stop,” he said.
A worker at a day care in Carlsbad that primarily handles infants and toddlers shared her concern with the lack of cost incentive for day cares to take on these younger individuals. Several in the room asked how these regulations would affect Christian-affiliated day cares. A gentleman on the board of GLC asked why CYFD was proposing to no longer accept the National Administrator Credential for new directors. Haggard said that he could not provide him with an answer at the time.
Some conceded that several of the regulations were based on ‘common sense.’
“According to what little information that I’ve been able to look up 70 percent of the CYFD budget goes to unregulated homes. Yet the CYFD’s answer from what I can see is to overregulate … the early childhood centers,” said Councilor Jason Perry. “We’re listening to the Obama’s when we need to be listening to the mamas.”
“These centers were wanting to inform you of their concerns before you informed them of regulations,”said Rep. Nora Espinoza, R-Roswell. She called on the audience to contact her with their concerns.
Any approved changes are expected to take effect sometime in November or December. Regulations are generally revised every two years, Haggard said. CYFD will hold another series of town hall meetings in July to discuss the new Quality Rating and Improvement System.
Input regarding proposed guidelines can be submitted via email to policy firstname.lastname@example.org, faxed to (505) 827-9978 or mailed to CYFD-ECS Policy Input PO Drawer 5160 Santa Fe, N.M., 87502.