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New DSHS family home child care rules in effect

New licensing rules to protect the health and safety of children enrolled in home-centered day care situations are now in effect.

As of Oct. 1, the Department of Social and Health Services put into effect its updated licensing procedures and new rules which cover the approximately 58,000 children who are cared for in the state's 6,400 licensed family home care facilities.

The goal of the update is to make the licensing rules more understandable, said Rachel Langen, the director of the state's Division of Child Care and Early Learning. Langen said the rules were last updated in 1991.

Langen said many of the changes were made at the request of the family home care providers. She said the providers wanted rules that more clearly spell out the state regulations.

Among the new licensing rules is a provision that requires that pre-licensing background checks of all potential child care providers give the same weight to convictions and pending criminal charges.

Examples of some of the other rule changes include:

• Requiring parents to sign their children in and out of the family home care facility;

• Requiring that infants sleep or nap in the main child care areas of the facility, instead of being located in other parts of the home;

• Requiring that the provider, who is named on the license, must be present in the home a majority of the time and those licensees must notify DSHS if they plan to be away from the home the majority of the time.

Langen said process to change the state home child care rules took more than a year and included focus groups and public hearings to gather suggestions and input from family home care providers and the public.

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