Thursday I came across a March 24, 2011 blog on Facebook regarding a “new” Massachusetts State mandate requiring daycare providers to brush children’s teeth after a meal or if the child is at the daycare more than four hours.. The blogger calls the teeth brushing mandate: Nanny-statism. I didn’t think much about it at first, then I re-read the blog and thought: Holy shit; that does sound crazy!
I decided to look up the new regulation and found out it actually went into effect last year (sometime around January 2010). One of the news stories actually posted a link to the full regulations. It’s pretty short and to the point and from the wording, I blame the dentists. So after reading the text to the regulation I find out there is a ‘opt out’ loophole for parents who don’t want to have their children brush their teeth at daycare. After finding that out it didn’t sound so much like the problem was Big-Bad government. It actually sounded fair since it applies only to licensed daycare and parents could opt out of the program.
I decided to look up MA state requirements for licensed daycare centers. Here is the PDF . It’s LONG with pages and pages of rules. Honestly, I didn’t read all of them. There are rules for just about everything: how many kids you can watch, teaching children how to wash their hands, lifeguards at swimming pools, and even rules against corporal punishment. Here, this link explains some of the rules in layman’s terms.
So what do I think of a mandate that tells licensed daycare centers to brush children’s teeth? I think whether or not a child brushes their teeth after eating should be an arrangement between the center and the parents. But when the State starts passing out licenses, of course there are going to be standards that have to be followed; no matter how petty they seem.
Now we could do away with licensing all together and let the free market take care of it. That means it would be up to the individual daycare providers/ centers to: have a life guard at the swimming pool, install fall zones underneath play ground equipment or simply have a child brush their teeth after they eat. Now I’m sure the majority of daycare centers wouldn’t have a problem with commonsense practices like: cuddling babies, redirecting children who exhibit inappropriate behavior or giving progress reports to parents. Of course there would a few shitty providers who did such a crappy job that no one would leave children in their care. Those businesses would, most likely go out of business as word got around about how poor they performed. Ideally if daycare centers were left to the free market then the good ones would compete with each other for customers by perhaps coming up with dynamic curriculum that is tailored to each individual child or installing the safest most up-to-date playground equipment.
Obviously the states didn’t always pass out licesnes to daycare providers. I can only imagine how, as more and more familes because two income households and parents got sick of not knowing how to tell if someone is a good child care provider so the State (any state not just MA) stepped in and said “We’ll create a department to set standards for daycare providers and give licenses to the providers who follow our set standards. Then we will put all the licensed providers on a list so you will know who all the ‘good’ ones are.” And just because there are ‘rules’ doesn’t mean that centers can’t compete with each other for business. State requirements are just minimums, after all and a daycare center could choose to have children brush their teeth after every meal and not just once during the day.
So I talked about daycare licensing for safety. My other thoughts on the reason for daycare licensing is raising revenue! Yeah, the government is a greedy bastard! I’m going to use MI as an example: here is a list of the cost of obtaining your daycare license. In MI it’s illegal to provide childcare services without a license, by the way.
One last thing about these ‘for our own good’ type rules and regulations. I don’t assume that it is just bored legislators coming up with this stuff. Remember WE elect lawmakers! WE are the ones writing our legislators and telling them that there should be a law for or against something!! If there is a nanny-state WE are the ones creating it!!!