Colorado Proposed Child Care Regs Include Race of Dolls and Staff Clothing

Colorado child care workers might soon face a few more tasks on their daily to-do lists. The state's Department of Human Services is proposing new child care center regulations that would limit kids' TV time to 20 minutes per day and regulate items including the race of the dolls kids play with and what kind of clothes staff members wear.

The rule changes, which the state has outlined in an exhaustive 98-page document, have been in the works since 2006. Rules include guidelines on time spent outdoors, sunscreen policies and field trip mandates.

"The proposed rules are just astronomically overbearing. There's too many of them and they're too specific for a center to be able to remember and follow," preschool director Ida Mae-Custer told 7NEWS in Denver.

The state has been gathering public feedback at information sessions that will run through September.

Deb Hartman, the program director at an early learning center in Trinidad, Colo., hosted an information session for the proposed rule changes. Hartman largely supports the state's proposal, but said that certain things, such as increasing the number of emergency drills from 14 per year to 20, weren't practical.

"That's a lot of drills to be running," she said, adding that the process was already stressful for young children. "Between the noise and the exit procedure, it's pretty traumatic."

Hartman said her facility already complies with most of the proposed changes, but not all. Adding additional restrooms and improving the playground may be required if the proposal gets approved and costs for that would run about $10,000.

Liz McDonough, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Human Services, stressed that the rules are not set in stone, and are a long way from final approval. Mid-2012 is the earliest the rules would go into effect.

"These are quality standards that were taken directly from a national standard," she said. "We were lagging, we're attempting to improve that."

Charlotte Brantley, president and CEO of Clayton Early Learning in Denver, said she welcomed the conversation and thought parents would find assurance in knowing what's required of child care providers.

"You may think it's overkill, but at least you know," she said. "I think what we're having to deal with here is finding the right balance."

Colorado ranks 43rd nationwide for child care center regulations and oversight, according to the National Center of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies. Linda Smith, the center's executive director, pointed out that doggie day cares in Colorado are inspected twice a year while child care centers are only inspected once every other year.

"That doesn't make sense on anybody's radar," she said. "Colorado's got a lot of room for improvement."

To Provide Feedback on the Proposed Center Rules Via an Online Survey

For Proposed Changes to Child Care Centers Rules