New child care center regulations aim to keep children safe and healthy – Alabama’s News Leader

Making sure your kids are safe and healthy at day care, that’s the goal of a new set of regulations recently passed by the Jefferson County Board of Health. The health department said they want to make parents better informed.

“As a father and someone who is involved in caring for children anyone’s going to want to see that level of safety and scrutiny applied to a place where your child is going to be taken care of,” said David Bryant with Hand in Hand Early Learning Center.

Some of the items on the updated list of regulations are old concepts, like requiring smoke detectors, but others are new. For example a diaper changing station must be cleaned with an approved disinfectant. 

There’s also a new clarification about playground equipment, it must be safely accessible from the facility and surrounded by a fence.

The health department said they are one of two counties in the state to adopt local regulations. “That will serve approximately 17,600 kids that receive childcare outside their home currently,” said Director of Environmental Health Jonathan Stanton.

The regulations go beyond safety, they also aim to make sure children are healthy by limiting screen time, providing nutrition requirements, and providing physical activity requirements. Children must have at least 90 minutes of active play per day.  “We’re just trying to encourage kids to get out more to fight the epidemic of obesity that we have in the U.S.” said Stanton.

Inspections will start in October and results will be posted in a visible spot similar to how restaurant inspections are done now. But the Health Department cautions that they won’t be able to inspect every center right away so it will take some time before every facility has inspection results.

The new regulations will apply to every child care center in Jefferson County with 12 or more children. That includes church child care facilities and centers not regulated by DHR.

To learn more about the new regulations visit the Jefferson County Department of Health’s website.