A Regulatory Tidbit

In a Potomac News story on three day care centers that may be shut down by the state for violations, I came across this bit of information about a critical player in our economy:

Given that there are about 600 daycare licensing regulations, most of the state’s 2,621 licensed daycare centers’ records include violations, according to Lynne Williams, assistant director of the division of licensing programs. [emphasis mine]

We may have part of the explanation for why day care is so expensive for consumers and so low-paying for employees.

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  1. Anonymous Avatar

    No, you have the entire explanation for the high cost and shortage of choices — regulation. There is a companion and quite related problem of course, the cost of liability insurance to cover potential lawsuits. The question is, how much market freedom to you really want?

  2. Addison Avatar

    If you want a sense of what sniggling regulations the reviewers are checking on, go to VA Childcare database

    Here are some of my favorites:
    12/1/03: “One child’s jar of baby food, opened and located in the refrigerator, had a date of 11-26-03.”
    (I hope they never look in my fridge)

    6/1/05: “No paper towels were in the bathroom.”

    6/1/04: “Emergency escape plan not posted.”

    3/1/04: “No first aid instruction manual or tweezers in the first aid kit.”
    (Again, hope I don’t get checked at my home)

  3. subpatre Avatar

    Don’t forget the unlicensed facilities too. All filled with trivia labeled as violations:
    – 22VAC15-30-575-B-5 Description: Diapers are being disposed of in a regular trash can. A plastic-lined storage system that is not hand operated is required.
    – 22VAC15-30-600-E-1 Description: No available battery operated radio. Action to be Taken: Put batteries in radio.

    or this prize
    Technical Assistance: Please ensure hot dogs/vienna sausages are cut lengthwise and raisins are not served to children under the age of four years.
    Just remember, all this vital reviewing and paper shuffling provides jobs!

    On a related note: Does anyone know why the state mandates immunization against hepatitis-B, a sexually (or illegal needle) transmitted disease, for kindergarten entry? Is there some problem in Virginia schools this immunization addresses or covers?

  4. Waldo Jaquith Avatar
    Waldo Jaquith

    Yeah, but without such restrictions, how many toddlers are going to choke to death on an uncut hot dog before parents are marching down to their friendly neighborhood HoD rep, who, of course, obliges them by introducing a bill requiring hot dogs to be cut lengthwise before serving them in a daycare?

    Of course, the regulatory picture is more complex than that. One of the hats that I’ve worn has left me as licensed P&C surplus lines insurance broker, admitted in Virginia. That experience has shown me how desperate for regulation that many industries are. Let me provide a fanciful example.

    There’s no daycare regulation in Virginia. Everybody does their own thing. The insurance industry looks at the situation, and realizes that they’ll have to individually assess every day care before providing them with property or liability coverage. That’s awfully expensive, so most carriers would simply write off the state or, at best, charge an exorbitant rate for coverage. Unable to get insurance — like, say, obstetricians right now — day care would cease to exist, because a single loss would wipe out the business.

    So what does this fictional industry do? They go to Richmond and demand regulation. They demand rules that apply to all day cares, rules that describe the adult/child ratio, the caloric provisions per day, the fencing material to be used in the playground, and how hot dogs must be cut. The insurance industry gets in on the act, and has a hand in crafting those regulations, because their extensive loss data show where the exposures are, and they can explain why chain link fence is a no-no, or why serving apples in any form is simply a bad idea.

    Hundreds of regulations are put into effect as a result of this day care / insurance company collaboration. Day cares can put up fencing and hire staff without fear that they may not be able to get coverage, and with the added knowledge that their children are that much safer when they adhere to the standards. Insurance rates plummet, coverage becomes available, per child enrollment fees become reasonable, and everybody wins.

    Regulation is rarely forced on unwilling industries by a clueless government. Regulation comes from industries who would like hard-line standards to allow them to interact with other industries (often insurance), or who would like to use high standards to force their competition out of business or to cut their profits.

    Let’s all slice our hot dogs lengthwise, now, shall we?

  5. subpatre Avatar

    I know it’s the status quo, but it’s depressing. The industry couldn’t push its way out of a wet paper bag –couldn’t do anything– without getting a boost from the government teat. It’s udderly depressing how moribund the insurance industry is.

    You wrote, “There’s no ______ regulation in Virginia. Everybody does their own thing. The insurance industry looks at the situation, and realizes that they’ll have to individually assess every _______ before providing them with …. coverage. That’s awfully expensive, so…

    For really dangerous things, go look at the label on your electric oven, microwave, toaster, table saw, or circuit panel. Look for a little “UL” logo. Independent Underwriters laboratories certifies the safety of hundreds of categories and millions of devices; saving Virginians from exploding fingers, convulsions, asphyxiation and other disasters…. And setting a standard for insurance.

    Darned if your story doesn’t make the Liberterian line sound positively sane. It’s not udderly depressing however; UL doesn’t certify milking machines!
    Oh, and slicing lengthwise allows insertion into the nasal, auditory, or other, non-appropriate orifices; the nightmare of any care provider. For the little ones, diagonal slices are best. 😉

  6. Anonymous Avatar

    No raisins?

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