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Darcy Richardson ’06: Government Regulation of Child Care: Should it Be Increased in New York to Include Informal Care?

By Upstate Institute on July 1, 2006

The government has placed increasing regulations on child care over the last few decades. Until recently, informal care providers, those who care for only a few children in their home or the children’s home, have been exempt from these regulations. Concerns over quality have led many states to consider increased regulation of this part of the child care market when government subsidized funding is being used. Studies on the effectiveness of current regulation of child care centers and group homes show, however, that regulation is a risky means of improving quality. It may not be effective and can negatively affect availability, cost, parental employment, and parental responsibility and self sufficiency.

New York is currently considering a proposal for regulation of informal care that includes extensive background checks, fraud detection practices, and on-site visits. There are many concerns with the current proposal, even amongst those who believe that some regulations are necessary for informal providers. Recommended improvements include increased funding, simplification of the background checks and enhanced market rate scale, greater time frames for enactment, and further research.

These improvements would increase the likelihood that the regulations would lead to better quality care and help limit any negative effects they might have on aspects of the child care market. However, our findings suggest that parental education/training and strengthening of families may be more successful at improving quality and have fewer negative consequences than regulation.

Download the paper to learn more.

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