Study Grades States' Child Care Standards

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Knoxville (WVLT) - Who's watching the day cares, and pre-schools while they're watching your kids?

A new study claims most states aren't doing enough.

The National Association of Child Care Resources and Referral Agencies isn't grading the quality of child care, but how states themselves insure it with rules for teachers, facilities, background checks and programs.

By that standard: Tennessee's top tier. Kentucky scrapes bottom.

A referral led 3-year-old Jacob Phillips to the twice weekly Mother's Day Out at Parkway Baptist.

But only after mom's time out asking, "classroom size, how many teachers, the child-teacher ratio, what is your curriculum, is it faith based?" says Chresta Phillips.

"I did look at some other places, other options, just to see what was out there," says Dawn Stair.

"I think we need some criteria and some guidelines to follow," says Melissa Marti, from Parent-Children Ministry Services.

The NACCRA Child Care Advocacy Study says Tennessee gives parents a good measuring stick for judging caregivers.

Licensed care facilities must train staff in CPR, meet at least seven of 10 standards for promoting
good health-- and must let parents make surprise visits.

"You can be as involved as you wanna be. I prefer to be as involved as possible," says Chresta.

NACCRA says Tennessee's requires enough inspections, but you can't get thee records easily enough. Tennessee regs fall short on program development too.

"I know at this program, the director has regular meetings with other directors in the area to kind where they kind of compare notes, see what's working, what's not," Marti says.

Parkway Baptists posts its staffers resumes, right at the classroom door.

Compare that to Kentucky, where classroom ratios, weak requirements for teachers, and little access to records or oversight rank the Commonwealth as NACCRA's third worst.

A reality check, that leaves these kids moms, ever more grateful for what they've got.

"For me, two days a week was a good time period for my kids to be away from me and for me to have some time," Dawn says.

Do you get what you pay for? The study's jury's still out on that.

But it claims your average yearly bill for 5-day-a-week care, is about $1800 more in Tennessee than Kentucky.

And a clarification: the facility we visited: Parkway Baptist, isn't state licensed. It has its own state-governing board, which the director says, sets standards based on both state requirements-and those of other church-based facilities.

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