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Report: Kentucky Ranks 39th in U.S. for State of Child Care Centers

Kentucky ranks 39th in the U.S. for the state of its child care centers—earning high marks for posting complaint records online but poor marks for not  requiring center directors to have bachelor's degrees, says a new report.The report, from Child Care Aware of America, said Kentucky could improve its child care center's regulations by requiring state and federal fingerprints for checking criminal backgrounds and changing its educational requirements for lead teachers.The report also suggests that Kentucky adjust its ratios for staff to children.The report ranks Kentucky's oversight at 21 in the nation and its program standards at 43.The report relates to a long-standing issue in Kentucky child care—state regulations, says Susan Vessels, executive director for the Louisville advocacy organization Community Coordinated Child Care.Kentucky's regulations for child care centers are too myriad and are not created strategically, Vessels argues."It's not child-centered, that's why," she said. "That's the basic bottom line, is that it really has way more to do with paperwork than it does with the work of making sure that a child is in a stimulating environment that's going to help them be school and life ready."The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services counters that its made changes since Child Care Aware of America began compiling its information—and that steps have already been taken to address the issues raised in the report.A cabinet spokeswoman also noted that the state is making improvements—Kentucky ranked 40th in 2011.The report recommends that Kentucky: Require the use of state and federal fingerprints for checking individuals’ criminal history. Require the director to have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field. Require lead teachers to have a minimum of a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential or a degree in early childhood education or related field. Require centers to comply with NAEYC accreditation standards for group size in all seven age groups. Require centers to comply with NAEYC accreditation standards for staff:child ratios in all seven age groups.The report follows months of issues for Kentucky child care centers. In March, 18 Louisville child care centers were notified thattheir licenses would be revoked after a fraud investigation. The cabinet created several new regulations related to that investigation.And on April 1, the first round ofcuts to a popular child care subsidy for low-income, working families went into effect.

Joseph Lord is the online managing editor for WFPL.