Occupational Licensing

The Dubious Case for Regulating Day Care

Sifting through some misleading claims in The Washington Post


The Washington Post profiled a mother this week who wants Virginia to impose licensing restrictions on home-based day cares. Virginia is one of eight states that does not regulate providers who take care of six or fewer unrelated kids in their own home.

Spurred to activism by the death of her child, under circumstances that are still under investigation, the mother wants the state to require safety training, background checks, and home inspections for all home-based providers.

Considering the fact that Post writer Brigid Schulte clearly sympathizes with the idea that regulation would prevent such deaths, the article does a pretty good job providing grist for those who are more ideologically inclined towards less government.

For instance, the article portrays regulated day-care facilities as expensive and inconvenient relative to unregulated home-based providers. Many thousands of kids in Virginia are in unregulated day care, so it's not difficult to see that requiring licensure would impose massive costs on families.

That said, we're meant to wonder if we, as a society, should just find a way to shoulder the additional burden if it means safer care. But a little digging into the data shows it's not at all clear that licensing yields any safety benefits.

From the article:

Hundreds of cases of child abuse and neglect at unregulated day cares were referred by Child Protective Services to local investigators and prosecutors for further scrutiny in fiscal 2012, state records show.

Those state records are here. There were in fact 54 and not hundreds of investigations. The only way to get to hundreds is to count the 200-plus investigations of babysitters. Maybe Schulte thinks babysitters need more regulation too, but the article is about home-based day cares. It's rather disingenuous to conflate statistics on the two without at least mentioning that's what she's doing.

Moreover, of those 54 cases, only 13 turned out to be founded. Instead of implying that there are hundreds of potentially abusive unregulated providers in Virginia, Schulte should have just said investigators found 13 last year.

By contrast, there were 292 investigations that turned up 51 cases of abuse or neglect at regulated day cares. Of course, unregulated providers may be more abusive on average (if they take care of fewer children). But regulated providers are the source of more investigations and more cases of abuse.

Back to the Post

Day-care deaths in Virginia are rare. But three of the four children who died from suspected abuse or neglect while in day care in fiscal 2011 were in unregulated settings, according to the state Department of Social Services.

Those "unregulated settings" were in fact babysitters, as opposed to home-based day cares (see page 10). More importantly, three—not four—children died from abuse or neglect. The report says four caretakers were implicated in child deaths, but two babysitters were involved in the same death (page 17).

Still, that's only one year of data, so I requested more from the Department of Social Services. Seven children died from neglect or abuse in licensed day cares from 2000 to 2011. Twenty-five died in unlicensed care—but, in addition to home-based caregivers, that number includes babysitters and providers who are regulated but not licensed. (Virginia allows day cares affiliated with a religious organization to operate without a license, but they must abide by certain rules like minimum staff-to-child ratios.) A breakdown was not available.

Again though, since there is no data on the total number of children (or hours spent) in regulated versus unregulated care, it is impossible to tell which is more dangerous on average. What available numbers do show, though, is that children are vastly more likely to die from neglect or abuse at the hands of parents and family members than at either regulated or unregulated day cares. In fiscal 2011, for instance, parents, relatives, and paramours were implicated in 34 of 40 child deaths where a caregiver was at fault.

One can certainly understand and respect the motives that lead the mother in the story to push for licensing. But more regulation may be a bad thing for child safety, on balance. Licensing would force unregulated providers to either increase their prices or exit the market. Thousands of parents would then keep their kids at home or turn to relatives, which is an order of magnitude more dangerous for children.

As state senator Steve Martin (R-Chesterfield) tells the Post, parents don't need a license to have kids. Should they?

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  1. Should we require the licensing of parents?

    There are some who would say “Yes!”

    1. another Union push, through “Star” certified daycare…

  2. “Spurred to activism by the death of her child”
    Lady, shut up and go home.

    1. There seems to be nothing more dangerous to liberty than a dead child.

      1. Don’t know people don’t seem to notice all the dead foreign children.

        1. Forners dont count

    2. The lady has since shelled out cash for a background check on the babysitter. Maybe she should have done that BEFORE she hired the lady.

      1. StackOfCoins| 3.16.13 @ 1:58PM |#
        ‘The lady has since shelled out cash to deflect the blame onto the babysitter.’

        Hope you don’t mind the modification; pretty sure it reflects the facts.

    3. Yeah, in her mind, if she wasn’t able to properly vet her babysitter, then none of us (except government) are able to properly vet our babysitters. It’s the worst kind of projection. “I’m an idiot. Therefore everyone else must be an idiot. But if we all get together and do something collectively somehow it will magically turn out better.”

  3. It’s already extremely difficult for mothers to enter the work force given the current high cost of day care. The wages just don’t cover the costs of having a job (day care, gas, work clothes, etc) That’s one way to force more women to be stay at home moms I guess. But at least that women can sleep better at night with her deluded view that she actually accomplished anything to make children safer.

    1. “That’s one way to force more women to be stay at home moms I guess.”
      That’s the intermediate result. The long-term is for the gov’t to provide “free” day care.

      1. That’s one way to force more women to be stay at home moms I guess.

        The last thing leftists want is mothers staying home with their children on a large scale. They might discover that there are some things they can accomplish without the gentle kiss of the Almighty State, and our multi-decade inflationary economy might actually deflate back to fiscal sustainable levels.

      2. So the same people who hired agents for the TSA will hire people to work for the government run day care centers? That’s comforting.

        1. practice makes perfect…

      3. Isn’t that what grade school is?

  4. “Should we require the licensing of parents?”

    Gods below, don’t give them ideas like that!

    1. Oh don’t worry. They’ve already had that idea for a long time. They just need a few major tragedies to take advantage of to start selling the sheep on the idea.

    2. Children will be wards of the state until they turn 99.

      1. Nah. At 30 they’ll participate in the Carousel and the “winners” will enjoy renewal. Maybe if we implanted a jewel in the back of everyone’s hand…

      2. The elderly will be wards of the state once they turn 80.

    3. It’s just a matter of time. Mandated birth control for *everyone*, with the antidote temporarily available under proper conditions.

      1. I see you have a parking violation 6 years ago Ms. Johnson. You’ll have to wait until it drops off your record next year and apply again. Try to stay out of trouble until then, Ms. Johnson.

  5. http://www.businessinsider.com…..eal-2013-3

    So Cyrpus is straight up taking 5-10% of every single bank account in order to keep public employees salaries and benefits at the level they are accustomed to.

    They’re just straight up looting now.

    1. Well that could never happen here. *starts cleaning guns*

      1. Don’t worry, the feds will be coming after people’s 401ks soon enough. I’ve been predicting this for a while.

        1. How do you think they will do this?

          1. Same way they do every single liberty destroying measure: pass a law, and then imprison anyone who breaks it.

            A few lefty pundits have floated the idea: “There is a huge amount of money just sitting there, not being used.” You know, because that’s what people plan to live on after they quit working.

            I think Epi is right.

            1. I wonder how they can say it is “not being used.” None of that money is holed up in mattresses, most is in the stock market, which is creating taxable economic activity. But of course, it is not being used by the government……

              1. The Scrooge McDuck theory of capital accumulation–that the wealthy have vast amounts of liquid assets sitting idle–strikes yet again.

              2. I wonder how they can say it is “not being used.” None of that money is holed up in mattresses, most is in the stock market, which is creating taxable economic activity.

                Two things:

                1. It’s cute that you’re till under the mistaken assumption that progressives understand basic economics.

                2. Even if it WAS holed up in a mattress that doesn’t mean it’s not being used. If I’m saving it and plan on spending it eventually, then it will, at some point, be used for economic activity. The fact that it’s not being used for economic activity this instant is irrelevant.

                1. “2. Even if it WAS holed up in a mattress that doesn’t mean it’s not being used”

                  And if it’s ‘not being used’, tough shit. It’s MY money.

                  1. I don’t see your name on it, Sevo. Unless you were a Treasury Secretary or dead President at some point…

          2. (1) Wait for the next big stock market tumble.
            (2) Declare that the retirements of the country’s workers are too important to be left to whims of the market.
            (3) Pass a law changing the 401k deal so that in order to maintain the tax advantages, all such accounts must invest in U.S. securities with a guaranteed return backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S.government.
            (4) Accounts that are not converted will be immediately taxed.

            1. Then negative interest rates on securities and muni bonds (it’s being floated).

            2. So… Social Security part II?

              1. actually, it was put forth by a Phd that all you rich people (i.e. those with forethought who have a 401k) must help those who have not…

    2. Big Government is the best!

    3. Rotten fucking thieves.

    4. It’s always been straight up looting. I can’t think of a single reason why a government employee would get the benefit of the NAP by default, can you?

    5. “As it is a contribution to the financial stability of Cyprus, it seems ‘just’ to ask a contribution of all deposit-holders” to the rescue, Dijsselbloem said.

      “The challenges we were facing in Cyprus were of an exceptional nature,” the Dutchman said, under tough questioning from journalists at a press conference after the meeting in Brussels.

      “We did what we had to,” said French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici on exiting the talks.

      “It’s something that compared to other possible outcomes, is the least onerous,” said finance minister Sarris,

      This arrangement notably meant his government “avoided salary and pension cuts” for public sector workers, he said.

      Officer, I’d like to report a mugging. Wait! Where are you taking me?

    6. A run on the bank? What’s that?

      1. I’m sure that already happened with the well connected.

  6. OT, but since there’s no Morning or Afternoon Links on the weekend:

    Remember that policeman/”school resource officer” whose gun magically went off by itself in school one day, which I mentioned a week and a half ago?

    He’s resigned after an investigation determined he was at fault.

    As far as I can tell, no charges are pending, but the cop fellators are having a conniption fit believing that people drove him out of his job.

    1. That was a straight up Barney Fife move. What’s he need a gun for anyways.

      1. To shoot Adam Lanzas?

        I’m sensing a contradiction between Reason’s pro-gun and anti-cop stance.

        Guns are safe and awesome but cops shouldn’t have them because they are too incompetent and trigger happy not to endanger people?

        1. Umm…I was being facetious.

        2. “Guns are safe and awesome but cops shouldn’t have them because they are too incompetent and trigger happy not to endanger people?”

          Yes. Next question.

    2. Here’s another cop failure. Super trained Swat warrior, defender of freedom charges into battle with his weapon sight mounted backwards.


      1. Wow. There’s a guy who has probably never even sighted through that EOTech XPS3 wiglth it turned on. And his colleagues probably haven’t either if they didn’t immediately notice it was on backward. He’d never even see the reticle if was turned on, but his target probably could.

  7. Calgary zookeeper fired for letting gorillas into kitchen wants his job back

    In 2010, Irvine said he also took the blame when two Malagasy giant hognose snakes slithered down an uncovered drain. The pair was missing for nearly 24 hours before being found.

    1. Well he can always get a job here at those new govt run day cares we’ve been talking about.

  8. “Spurred to activism by the death of her child”

    Maybe we should adopt a variant of suttee, in which the mother of a dead child is thrown on the pyre, to eliminate the temptation of engaging in grief-driven political activism.

    1. I think your on to something there. Sometimes I wonder if these women just want fame and attention and are using their dead child to get it. Sheehan seemed like she used to really relish all that media coverage. Of course that coverage disappeared when she went from criticizing Boosh to criticizing Dear Leader.

      1. The bloody shirt won’t wave itself.

        Of course, you’re a heartless libertarian and don’t believe in the and moral supremacy of a mother’s grief.

        Shame on you.

        1. Thank you:) and as a heartless libertarian I of course feel no shame.

      2. “Sheehan seemed like she used to really relish all that media coverage”

        M?nchausen syndrome by proxy.
        It’s not for nothing that the syndrome has been identified.

  9. no charges are pending

    Let’s be fair; they’d never charge YOU for a negligent discharge in a school hallway.

    1. ah yes. more specious double standard fantasy land rubbish

  10. OT: Howard Fineman laments failure of media in critiquing build-up to Iraq War.

    But the war was politics. It was a new battle for the president to be seen fighting as he headed toward a reelection run. I should have known more, studied more, asked more questions and been more skeptical.

    I hope I am wiser now. I hope we all are.

    Really dipshit? How many hard-hitting questions have you asked Obama about his drone program or the steady erosion of civil liberties under his administration? I swear journalists like him are the lowest piece of scum on earth.

    1. I’m surprised he manages to type such eloquent sentences with his lips so tight around Obama’s cock and his hands on Barry’s balls.

      1. Eloquent sentences?

        I hope I am wiser now. I hope we all are.

        That sounds like something out of a Lifetime movie.

  11. I hope I am wiser now. I hope we all are.

    All evidence points to “no”.

  12. OT: This seems to have been missed in the Cruz/Feinstein stuff. Dianne Feinstein compares ownership of assault weapons to child pornography.

    He [Cruz] then asked if, in her opinion, Congress is allowed to “specify which books are permitted and which books are not.”

    Feinstein answered by saying “no.”

    That answer prompted Sens. Leahy and Durbin to mention child pornography.

    “It’s obvious that there are different tests on different amendments, and I think that what the Senator is going to point out that didn’t occur to me at the moment, is that there are certain kind of pornographic materials that [would] not be covered by the First Amendment,” she said.

    1. Are there certain types of domiciles that are less protected than others from quartering troops?

      1. Yes. There are. non politically connected ones. rules for thee not for we.

      2. Obviously. DiFi’s house is not going to be the first one to be turned into a barracks.

  13. It’s for the children.

    No debate necessary.

    1. CatoTheElder| 3.16.13 @ 11:01PM |#
      ‘It’s for the children.
      No debate ALLOWED’

      Hope you don’t mind the modification; pretty sure that’s the intent.

  14. Lets jsut roll with the punches and be donew with it. WOw.


  15. It’s easy to sympathize with parents who want some assurance that the person they are leaving their kid with is responsible enough to care for them properly.

    However, what noone seems to notice is that imposing a licensing requirement would dramatically reduce the number of informal child care workers, from teenage babysitters to the old lady next door who will watch your kids for a small fee.

    And that would mean that parents will have a MUCH harder time fionding someone to look after their kids for an afternoon or an evening if they want to go out.

    1. And they don’t think about the nuts and bolts of what the licensing will actually consist of. It means an airhead social worker with no children of her own checking off a list made by some bureaucrat also with no children of her own. It will be like restaurant inspections, they will look for dirt and compliance with arbitrary procedures the day of the inspection then be assumed to be okay the rest of the time. It engenders a false sense of security. If licensing ensured quality, there wouldn’t be so many shitty drivers on the road.

  16. I own a private daycare in a regulated, subsidized environment in Quebec.

    Trust me. Subsidized daycare is a racket on many levels. From the scamming of how the permits are handed out to who gets “free” spots. Never mind about the arbitrary application of codes that are not based on any empirical evidence.

    I can only nod my head at how much of an illusion $7 a day in Quebec is. It costs the government $53 a day to run. A private operator is more efficient. But this being political Quebec, anything that’s “private” or “free enterprise” is seen as suspicious.

    And the rest of Canada is marginally better and the USA no better with the anti-business Obama.

    I can go on and on. My sister kicks me out of the daycare when the inspectors show up because she knows I call them out on all their BS but they have the power to revoke my permit.

    It’s absurd.

    And ABSOLUTELY NOT is the government option “better.” What you have is a two-tiered system whereby, hello, daycare educators are overpaid and get too many benefits on the taxpayer dime – and thanks to equalization payments from the the rest of the country since Quebec is already heavily in debt to the tune of $260 billion.

    But keep hammering at regressive and discriminatory laws like Bill 14. That’ll learn ’em!


  17. As state senator Steve Martin (R-Chesterfield) tells the Post, parents don’t need a license to have kids. Should http://www.celinebagsaleuk.com/ they?

  18. Are there certain types of domiciles that http://www.tomsshoesoutletv.com/ are less protected than others from quartering troops?

  19. Yes. There are. non politically connected ones. rules for thee not for we.i like it http://www.nikeblazerswomensale.org/.

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