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Daycare regulations met with criticism

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by Lannie Walker

Guam - Daycare centers are now required to meet new standards that haven't change in over thirty years. But it seems some of the new rules are being meet with resistance.

Eight years is how long it took Public Health to revise the rules and regulations for daycare center standards on Guam. But it hasn't taken long for the new rules to be met with criticism. Human Services Program Administrator for the Department of Public Health and Social Services Lydia Tenorio said, "You had the opportunity to review the existing standards we were working on which are now 32 years old versus what we have created as a documents its just building clarification with a lot a law passed in 1978 its coming to terms with current trends and they are bare minimum standards."

Standards that went through a public hearing process at the legislature and were signed into law on June 2. But now some of the requirements are being met with criticism from daycare providers. Tisha Heflin is the director at Precious Ones Child Care Center in Sinajana and said, "They just want us to go full force with either we or agree with it or we don't agree with it and many child care centers will not agree with it because they have been in business for a long time and some of them feel the yes our standards need to get better but at the same time a lot of the things we are doing are not broken."

One of the main obstacle courses for providers has to do with one of the favorite places for most kids in daycares: the playground. "They want us to do away with all of the types of tyke toys, things we can financially afford, and they want us to upgrade to commercial standards," Helfin added.

According to the new rules and regulations daycare centers here on Guam have to have equipment similar to playground on military housing funded by the federal government- something many daycare owners says they just can't afford. Added Helfin, "If you look at their playground they are high-grade commercial playgrounds that are very expensive."

Another stumbling block for providers - professional development requirements. Heflin calls herself lucky that 10 out 12 of the staff members at precious ones have the credentials required under the new law. "But I realize not every child care center can afford to go and hire some one with a college degree," she said.

And Heflin risks losing valued staff like Carmen Cruz, who has been bouncing babies on her knee at the center for over a decade. But although the law is inked, Tenorio says adjustments can still be made.

Another public hearing process will be held before the requirements are finalized so providers like Heflin will still have a chance to give their input on how they run the businesses that serve Guam's most precious clients.

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