Day care checks in Ohio important

Ohioans concerned about the quality, not to mention the safety, of the day care establishments to which they entrust their children may be encouraged to learn of a new law going into effect in January. It includes tougher standards for small day care businesses operated in private homes.

That was the good news.

The bad news is that, according to the federal government, Ohio sometimes does not enforce existing day care requirements very well.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services officials looked into how well day care rules are enforced in several states, including Ohio. They found that the state missed about one-fourth of the unannounced inspections required under the law.

More worrisome was the revelation that about one in 12 reviews of background checks conducted on day care operators were missed.

Sometimes, checks to determine whether day care workers had sex offenses in their backgrounds were skipped.

To be fair, it needs to be noted the federal examination was a very limited spot check. DHHS analysts looked at only 125 of Ohio’s more than 13,000 day care providers. That may explain why state officials expressed little concern about the federal report.

Beginning in January, small in-home day care centers will have to be licensed by the state. Currently, only county-level certifications are required.

That will be good news to parents of small children and to relatives of the disabled only if the state’s strict rules are enforced.

State officials should follow up on the federal report, checking more day care centers to determine whether the numbers shown by the DHHS are accurate on a wider scale than the 125 centers examined. If so, more will need to be done to ensure day care centers are safe.