Day‐​Care Regulation: Serving Children or Bureaucrats?

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The regulation of day care is 100 years old this year.[1]In the past 15 to 20 years, however, day-care regulation hascome to consume $47 million of taxpayers' money.[2] Today, all50 states and the District of Columbia have some day-care regulations. More significant, day-care facilities are also subject to a host of local zoning, building, health, fire, andsafety statutes. These regulations, which vary from state tostate and municipality to municipality, can dictate everythingfrom the time a facility opens to the width of the exit door.The intent of these regulations is to ensure minimum health andsafety standards for the children and to guarantee responsiblecare by the day-care provider. Unfortunately, many requirements do little to achieve these aims, while a major effect ofregulation has been to raise the cost of day-care services,driving providers underground and limiting the number of children who can benefit. Unnecessary regulations are stifling thesupply of day care at a time when the need has never beengreater and shows every sign of continuing to surge.

Karen Lehrman and Jana Pace

Karen Lehrman is managing editor and Jana Pace is associate editor of Consumers' Research magazine.