Beat the Heat, Check the Back Seat!

Did you know that 23 children to date this year have died after having been left in a vehicle in the hot sun? Last year, 33 children died from heatstroke after having been left in a car or van.  Only 20 states have specific laws that address leaving a child unattended in a vehicle. What is the policy in your child care program? In your state?

Since most child heatstroke deaths are an unintentional consequence of parents or caregivers forgetting about a child in

National Weather Service: Beat the Heat, Check the Back Seat

National Weather Service

a vehicle, laws alone aren’t sufficient to reduce the number of child deaths.  That’s why the National Weather Service has started a campaign, “Beat the Heat, Check the Backseat.” Through greater public awareness, parents and caregivers might be less apt to forget a child.

A study published in the American Academy of Pediatrics Journal found that even on days when the outside temperature was relatively mild (72 degrees F), the temperature inside a vehicle can rise to 117 degrees within 60 minutes.  Young children and infants are more susceptible to heat illness than adults because their smaller bodies warm more quickly and they are less able to regulate heat.

The Department of Geosciences at San Francisco State University tracks child deaths related to heatstroke in vehicles.  Nearly 600 children have died from heatstroke in vehicles since 1998. More than half of the deaths involve children under 2 years of age.

Some quick tips for parents and child care providers:

  • Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle. Not even for a minute!
  • If you see a child unattended in a hot vehicle, call 9-1-1.
  • Be sure that all occupants leave the vehicle when unloading.
  • Always lock your car and ensure that children do not have access to keys or remote entry devices.
  • Make “Look Before You Leave” a routine whenever you get out of the car, and ask your child care provider to do this as well.
  • Have a plan that your child care provider will call you if your child does not show up for the day
  • Double check that your child care center does a head count of all children in a van before the day care van goes anywhere, when the van is unloaded off-site, and again upon re-entry off-site and upon returning back to the center.

To learn more about preventing the death of children from heatstroke in vehicles, check out this webinar from Child Care Aware of America – Children and Cars: Heat Safety, July 24 at 7:00pm (EST).

Child Heat Related Deaths Related to Being Left in a Vehicle

Child Heatstroke Deaths Related to Being Left in a Vehicle

Accountability for Funds Used for Child Care

On July 11, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, issued an early alert memorandum identifying gaps in state health and safety policies for children in unlicensed settings whose care is paid for through federal funding.

The Office of Inspector General is conducting an evaluation entitled, “Child Care and Development Fund: Monitoring of Licensed Child Care Providers” (OEI-07-10-00230), which is expected to be released this fall.  Under the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG statute), states are required to have health and safety standards in place for all providers (including unlicensed providers) receiving CCDBG funds.  The three requirements by statute are: prevention and control of infectious disease; building and physical premises safety; and health and safety training.

In the course of investigations pertaining to the report, the IG’s office found that:

  • Nearly 300,000 children whose care is paid for through CCDBG are in unlicensed care.
  • 30 states allow license-exempt center-based providers to care for children receiving CCDBG subsidies.
  • 33 states allow license-exempt family child care home providers to care for children receiving CCDBG subsidies.
  • Despite CCDBG statutory requirements, some states, such as Mississippi, reported that they did not have any requirements for unlicensed centers or unlicensed family child care homes.
  • Of the states that reported health and safety requirements in the three areas required by law, 9 states allowed center-based providers to “self-report” compliance with the requirements and 23 states allowed family child care home providers to self-report compliance.
  • In most states, license-exempt providers are not subject to routine monitoring visits.

In May, HHS proposed new rules to strengthen the safety and quality of child care for children whose care is paid for through CCDBG.  When the new rules go into effect, all providers (licensed or unlicensed – except relatives) will have to meet basic health and safety requirements. In addition, HHS will no longer allow states to accept self-certifications (unless such certifications document each of the requirements met by the provider).  But, self-certification, alone, will no longer be allowed.

How many children in your state receive a subsidy? Click here. How many children receiving a subsidy in your state are in unlicensed care? Click here The comment period on the proposed HHS regulation runs through August 5, 2013.  If you agree that there should be accountability for the expenditure of federal funds, money used to help low-income families afford the cost of child care, comment today.

Time to Strengthen the Child Care and Development Block Grant

The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is the primary source of federal child care funding for states.  Under CCDBG, funds are allocated to each state to help make child care more affordable for families and to help states engage in activities to improve the quality of child care.   The CCDBG statute contains few requirements, which has resulted in state laws that vary greatly.  In some states, a child care license is not required until 13 children are cared for in a home.  In many states, very little training is required for child care providers.  While child care policies are generally weak, oversight of those policies is even weaker.  Some states only conduct inspections every five or ten years.

The Child Care and Development Block Grant law has not been reviewed or reauthorized in 17 years.  Bipartisan legislation was recently introduced to strengthen the law – S. 1086, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2013.  In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has recently proposed new regulations in an effort to strengthen the law to the extent possible under existing regulatory authority.  The comment period with regard to the new regulations is open to the public through August 5, 2013.

About 1.6 million children throughout the country receive child care assistance. The CCDBG law does not require that subsidies be used in licensed child care.  What does that mean?  About 18 percent or about 290,000 children are in unlicensed care.  While state licensing laws vary with regard to minimum health and safety protections for children, there are no minimums for unlicensed care.  Where are the children whose care is paid for with taxpayer dollars? See the tables below to see state by state information about taxpayer funded child care in your state.

Children Whose Care is Paid for Through CCDBG

Community economic vitality depends on the availability of quality, affordable child care.  The fact is that families with young children need child care to work.  And, child care is expensive.  All children in child care should be in settings that are safe and promote their healthy development.  When taxpayer dollars are used to assist families, there should be some accountability in the expenditure of those funds so that children are not in potential danger financed through public funds.  Both the Senate bill and the HHS proposed regulations will help strengthen the quality of child care and the accountability for child care funding.  Call your Senators today and urge support for S. 1086 introduced by Senators Mikulski, Burr, Harkin, and Alexander.  Comment on the HHS regulations and let the federal government know it’s time to strengthen federal policy to protect children.