Home Day Care vs. CentersThis letter of...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Home Day Care vs. Centers

This letter of response has been in process since Kevin Thomas' column on May 7, entitled "When We Can't Protect Our Kids." You see, we've been busy taking care of our families, our clients' families and, most importantly, their children. We work long hours and are very committed to our profession. We represent 50 percent of the regulated child care spaces nationwide and we took great offense at Mr. Thomas' comments.

Mr. Thomas states, "As attentive and concerned and probing as I was, I could never be certain of what went on when I wasn't there." He was referring to his family child care experiences.

Well, Mr. Thomas, did you ever visit unannounced? Were you an informed consumer when you made your choice for child care? How could you possibly leave your children if you did not feel comfortable? This borders on neglect, for you are ultimately responsible for the care of your children. Perhaps your title should have been, "When We Won't Protect Our Kids."

The two most recent studies on child care, "The Study of Children in Family Child Care and Relative Care" by the Families and Work Institute and "Cost, Quality and Child Outcomes in Child Care Centers" by the universities of Colorado at Denver, California at Los Angeles, North Carolina and Yale point to an alarming fact: Parents do not know what to look for when choosing child care.

A majority of parents rate a center highly, yet those in the profession rate it as mediocre to poor in quality. The message is clear: The public needs to be informed.

What makes you think that centers are safer than family child care homes? Did you know that many centers have numerous violations (without notification to parents), which exist for years before they are finally closed by the licensing agency? Did you ever ask to see the annual licensing report of your center? Do you know how to find this information? Many family child care providers share this information during the interview process.

You see, we want our parent/clients to be informed consumers. They will then know that the best child care is provided in small groups (one care-giver with five children is infinitely better than two with 21 children), in a home-like setting. You can't get more homelike than in a home.

Did you know that you were breathing a sigh of relief when your child entered a center, yet the provider you were using (if she was licensed) had a more thorough background check conducted on her than the teachers and assistants in that center?

Prior to becoming a licensed family child care provider, we are required to provide a signed release that enables the Child Care Administration (CCA) to access our Child Protective Services files (giving them information about substantiated abuse or neglect charges).

If there are charges in the file, we may not operate a licensed home. In a center, only the director, the board of director members who have access to children and anyone living on the premises is required to sign this release.

Your child may have had a teacher or assistant who had a previous charge for abuse or neglect. This information is not accessible to either the director or the CCA.

We are certain that most centers have skilled teachers and assistants, without substantiated abuse or neglect charges. What we wish to point out is that you may be placing your child in an "institution" which has all the appearances of operating in a way to protect your children, yet appearances can be deceiving. You can never abdicate your responsibility for your child. Become an informed consumer.

The services offered to parents looking for child care and to registered family child care providers in other counties of Maryland should put Howard County to shame.

Apparently, an informed child care consumer is not a priority in this county. Perhaps this is due to the fear that parents will then know that trained, regulated family child care is truly the best environment for children -- and there just won't be enough of us to meet the demand.

Julie Klein

Wafa Sturdivant

Columbia

The writers are, respectively, president and treasurer of the Howard County Family Child Care Association. This letter was also signed by four other members of the association board of directors.

Court Diversity

The Sun's June 16 editorial ("For a More Diverse Circuit Court") indicates either that you are unaware that the names of two women are on the list submitted to Gov. Parris Glendening by the Judicial Nominating Commission or that you do not consider these "female candidates to be worthy of a judgeship on Howard County's Circuit Court."

I wholeheartedly agree that qualified minority candidates should receive every consideration for the existing vacancies on the Circuit Court.

However, your editorial ignores the fact that the list which Governor Glendening has held for nearly two months does include the name of two extremely well-qualified female candidates, Judge Lenore Gelfman and Diane O. Leasure, Esquire.

Ms. Leasure is chairman of the litigation section of her Seabrook, Md., law firm of Fossett & Brugger, Chartered, and she is the current president of the Prince George's County Bar Association.

Judge Lenore Gelfman, a lawyer with 20-plus years experience, has served with distinction on Howard County's District Court for five years. She is a community leader who received high marks from both the lawyers and litigants who appear before her.

In fact, in a straw poll conducted among the membership of the Howard County Bar Association, Judge Gelfman received the highest number of votes as "highly qualified" for the position, besting all the other candidates on the list submitted to the governor. It should be noted that 27 percent of the Howard County Bar Association are women; thus, the implication that the bar is a closed organization of white males is without basis.

As the Circuit Court's backlog continues to grow and as two of the five judges' seats are vacant, there is no reason for Governor Glendening to continue to hold up this appointment. Not while he has the opportunity to elevate a female as worthy as Judge Gelfman.

The Sun seems to have missed the point on this one.

James K. Eagan III

Columbia

The writer was president of the Howard County Bar Association 1993-94.

Greed Kills

How long is it going to take us before we realize that development is not synonymous with progress?

So Wal-Mart is coming to Howard County and once again a piece of Howard County property is falling victim to useless development -- useless to everyone but Wal-Mart, that is. What Howard County needs to do is to stop having a "superstore" or a townhouse built on every available acre, and take stock of what we have before it's all gone.

First, Wal-Mart: We don't need one. A lot of residents don't want one, and it will only hurt local small businesses even more than they are already hurting.

It isn't just Wal-Mart, though. The 74-acre "Chalice Center" superstore project across from Dobbin Center is another wasteful project. Not only is it spoiling an attractive piece of land already surrounded by unnecessary townhomes, but it is drawing even more people away from the Long Reach Village Center, which is struggling perhaps more than any other Columbia village center.

I would urge residents to fight these projects at every possible turn. Years ago, Columbia and Howard County used to engage in creative, productive development, with a meaning beyond greed and money.

Today, we sit in a county where every open acre is a potential superstore. Howard County needs to remember that more and more stores or townhouses, and yes, even Wal-Mart, will not solve our problems. They will just create more.

Benjamin Wyskida

Columbia

Another Shot?

In your editorial of June 22, titled "School vs. Parental Responsibility," you wrote: "Officials also should work toward ending public bus service for 650 Catholic school pupils, which costs the county more than $200,000 a year. Using tax dollars to transport private school students is all the more unacceptable -- when public school students -- especially the very young -- must walk, in part because of limited funds."

You had to get in another "shot," didn't you? 650 Catholic school students transported to the Howard County school system at $5,000 per student would cost $3,250,000.

I wish I could invest $200,000 each year and get a 1,625 percent return on my money. Your argument makes no economic sense. As usual, your bigotry is showing.

George F. Vaeth Jr.

Columbia

Liberate Columbia

I recently read an editorial that said "Columbians don't want to be liberated." I believe the apathy is caused by circumstances that are next to hopeless to correct.

This is mistaken for contentment. The weekend I worked at the Columbia Arts Festival, the vast number of people I talked with expressed interest in incorporation. They wished us luck, but thought our efforts would be to no avail. Most did sign our petition anyway. The signatures will always be valid.

The editorial also said, "The populace doesn't seem to be interested in being rescued." Our group is a threat to the status quo. The Columbia Council is being manipulated. Negative information is being glossed over whatever the Columbia Council must vote on in order to present a project in its best possible light. This is not right. The council members don't know what parts of the puzzle are missing so they don't know what questions to ask to fill in the whole picture.

The writer said that the problems with the Columbia Association "can be addressed in simpler ways."

That was tried by the Columbians for Howard County. They were rebuffed. The council won't even listen to friendly advice. . . .

The writer made a point of talking about how we cannot develop momentum until or unless the Columbia Association does something outrageously stupid.

I published a letter exposing the toxic waste dumps off Snowden River Parkway. Columbia could have its own version of New York's Love Canal. The Rouse Co. plans to build more than 600 town homes nearby. Does anybody care? Has any newspaper investigated? Has the Columbia Council investigated?

No, its thoughts were of the potential windfall of the lien money it would collect on this new development. How stupid is this? The Rouse Co. certainly knew of this problem. Everyone seems to be forgetting about the people of Columbia. What do we, the people want? My group would give the people their voice back.

The editorial goes on to say, "it would be irresponsible to authorize a binding vote on an issue whose implications are so unclear."

I agree. State law dictates that a charter must accompany the petitions submitted to the County Council. The "binding vote" has to be on both documents at the same time. The "binding vote" must be within 60 days of the County Council's approval of a referendum ballot on both documents. The County Council has 60 days from the time we submit these documents to vote on whether to allow the special election. At the very least, that's four months to discuss . . . the proposed charter.

Lastly, it was suggested perhaps the time is ripe for our first non-binding referendum.

Why bother? The Columbia Council has successfully ignored everyone trying to offer them constructive criticism for 25 years. The Columbia Municipal League, Inc. can be contacted at 997-1063.

Neil Noble

Oakland Mills

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