Why a GOP lawmaker wants to deregulate Colorado’s home child care centers

(Photo: CPR/Megan Verlee)

Photo: The Colorado Capitol on New Year's Day 2015Colorado lawmakers will consider a bill to deregulate most of Colorado’s home-based child care operations on Thursday.

State Sen. Kevin Lundberg, the bill's sponsor, says he came up with the idea after hearing reports about how difficult and expensive it is to get licensed child care. His bill would let any home-based day care with 10 or fewer children operate without state oversight.

"The goal is to make more legal day care available for the people of Colorado. And I believe it will be at a more cost effective level," he explained.

This would work, according to Lundberg, because parents are toughest judges of the quality of child care.

But the Colorado Association of Family Child Care believes that deregulation would hurt low-income parents.

"You have some parents who are very cautious, and then you have the other parents that don’t have any choice," said CAFCC President Tricia Lynch.

Licensed providers currently have to go through health and safety certification as well as continuing education, Lynch notes.

Lundberg, the bill's sponsor, said that a state license doesn’t always equal safety, pointing to a Denver Post article that found 24 deaths in state-licensed facilities over six years

Opponents of his bill also say that the cost of child care in our state is not primarily being driven by licensing requirements for providers. According to the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral, Colorado ranks 35 out of 50 states for oversight and licensing rigor for child care centers.

Deregulation might prevent the poorest parents from using home-based centers entirely because federal child care subsidies can only be used in licensed facilities.