By Associated Press
December 21, 2016

A state proposal to increase the required number of training hours for Kansas child care providers could mean parents will have to pay more for child care, providers told lawmakers during a hearing Tuesday.

About 100 people attended a hearing over proposed Kansas Department of Health and Environment regulations that would raise to 16 the number of hours of annual in-service training for primary care providers, who directly supervise and interact with children. Administrators of preschools and child care centers would have to complete 24 hours of training annually, The Kansas City Star reported.

State documents show the department contends the proposed changes, which also included revisions to health and safety training for the workers, would be made to follow new federal requirements. The department said it’s working to ensure that various training opportunities are available at little or no cost.

Russ Robinson, owner of the Kids R Kids early learning center in Olathe, said the current requirements are enough and the changes would put an unreasonable economic burden on parents.

“The proposed amendments are expensive,” he said.

Patty Bullock, director of the Prince of Peace preschool in Topeka, said training must have substance and help families. Increasing the hours alone won’t do the job, she said.

“I have seven of the most highly professional teachers (and) pay them well,” Bullock said. “But now I’m going to ask them to do more. And the way that’s going to get accomplished is: I’m going to have to go to the parents and ask them to pay more to do that. And that’s wrong.”

But Amy Gottschamer, director of Googols of Learning in Lawrence, spoke in favor of the changes and said cost shouldn’t be an issue.

“If we want to be considered more than just glorified baby sitters, we must engage in education,” she said.

Amanda Gress, director of government relations for Kansas Action for Children, said her organization also supports the changes.

“Initial and ongoing training for child care providers improves Kansas children’s safety and early learning,” she said.

Lori Steelman, director of the state’s early care and youth program, said the Department of Health and Environment would review the comments.

Read more from the Lawrence Journal World.