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Open Forum: A stronger voice for child care

As licensed child care provider in Crow Wing County for nearly 17 years, I have experienced a lot of change and frustration due to the lack of understanding of the child care profession by those who have never walked in our shoes. The Dispatch recently ran an article from the St. Cloud Times regarding child care providers and unions.

Child care providers are governed by State Statues in Rule 2 which needs revision. We fought for years to have syrup of ipecac removed from the statute because of the dangers of aspiration. As a First Responder, I could not use it, nor could ambulances but providers were required to have it and suffer the consequences, none of which were positive. That requirement was finally removed. We have fought to have illegally operating daycares closed and prosecuted, and legally unlicensed child care monitored, all to no avail. The only requirement of legally unlicensed providers is First Aid and CPR, yet they receive funding from the state; grants, free training and child care assistance for those that qualify. To be compliant the legally unlicensed provider cares for only relatives and one unrelated family, even if they are caring for 15 children. Regulations bar us from having frogs, turtles, etc in our science programs but centers can have them. I guess DHS feels centers can wash hands better than childcare providers. We fought the mitten bill, the BBQ bill; we are over regulated. Providers have a very small voice in fighting regulations affecting our programs. A union has a much stronger voice. I am livid that our right to vote to unionize or not is being threatened. We are smart enough to care for and educate Minnesota's youngest citizens but not to make an educated business decision or vote?

Kathy Stevens