A nationwide survey shows many states are distressingly lax in their regulation and oversight of child care centers and Kentucky is among the worst.
The lowest marks went to Idaho and Louisiana and the highest to the far-flung system run by the U.S. military. After Idaho and Louisiana, the next most lax states were Nebraska, Kentucky, California and Kansas. Following the military atop the rankings were Illinois, New York, Maryland, Washington, Oklahoma, Michigan, North Dakota, Tennessee, Minnesota and Vermont.
Criteria for the rankings included caseloads for center inspectors, frequency of inspections, health and safety requirements, background checks, staff qualifications and activities offered to children.
Experts say that among the common problems in the states are infrequent inspections, deficient safety requirements, and low hiring standards - including lack of full criminal background checks - for center employees.
An estimated 12 (m) million children under age five are in non-parental child care each week.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)