Childcare provider laws - who's responsible for your kids?

Childcare provider laws - who's responsible for your kids?
By: CJ Cassidy
A follow up to a disturbing childcare story we brought you earlier this week - 60-year-old William Huck faces more than a dozen criminal counts.
He's accused of molesting at least forty children over the past thirty years, all at the daycare his wife operated in Ste. Genevieve County.
The story got us thinking about baby-sitters and child safety. Whose responsibility is it to keep our kids safe once we drop them off?
Most parents will tell you, their child's safety is their number one concern, but, when it comes to choosing child care - cost and convenience often win out.
In fact, childcare expert Karen McDougall tells me the cheaper rates offered by non-licensed day cares appeal to many parents. "For non licensed childcare there are no state standards. They are not required to be licensed if they take care of four or fewer children," McDougall says.
The day-care William Huck's wife operated in Ste. Genevieve County wasn't required to be licensed, and investigators believe hook molested the children when his wife wasn't around. But, is she still responsible if the kids are left in her care? Karen McDougall says, not legally.
So is the provider expected to be around at all times? "Yes, otherwise they should make alternate arrangements and parents should know about it," McDougall says.
Prosecutor Morley Swingle goes a step further - pointing out how tough it is to file criminal charges against a baby-sitter who leaves the children with someone else. "Because the child really wasn't put at a true risk of harm. Now if they gave the children to someone else and that person was a known registered sex offender and that person molested the child, then I think we'd have a good case of winning a conviction on endangering the welfare of a child," he says.
Despite the lack of state laws governing non-licensed daycare providers, staff at the resource center keep track of serious complaints. "If I'm going to leave my children somewhere, I want to know who's taking care of them," McDougall says.
So what should we be doing as parents to make sure our kids are safe with a baby-sitter? Experts suggest building a relationship with your childcare provider; even going so far as to drop in un-announced at the daycare, just to keep an eye on what's going on.