Loophole in NC law allows many child care programs to be unregulated

FOX8 discovered not all childcare centers are regulated by the state.

The state does not require childcare programs that are open four hours or less a day to be regulated.

You can find this legislation in Chapter 110 of the North Carolina General Statutes.

Daycares and preschools that serve students for more than four hours a day must meet dozens of guidelines to earn a required license but that all goes away if they close their doors after four hours.

FOX8 On Your Side asked the NC Division of Child Development and Early Education why part-time child care programs are exempt from regulation. A representative just pointed us to the legislation. We contacted five state lawmakers. None of whom could explain why the exemption was in the law either.

Parents we spoke to told us they didn’t understand why these part-time programs aren’t regulated. Kendra Kilburn said, “It’s extremely shocking. It never occurred to me that they wouldn’t be regulated the same way as the full-time programs.”

One of these unlicensed part-time preschools is Fellowship Day School in Greensboro.

Alyson Saunders worked at Fellowship for five years. In April, investigators charged her with six counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, sex offense on a child by an adult, indecent liberties with a child and crimes against nature. The investigation found the children were abused at Fellowship Day School. Law enforcement say some of the crimes happened on a changing room table.

Saunders is in jail on a $1 million bond.

FOX8 contacted administrators with Fellowship Day School to ask what they have done two months later to keep this from happening again. We called and emailed with a list of questions. They never responded.

We called eight other well-known part-time preschools in our area. Each one told us they have very important protocol in place for infants and toddlers. Two employees must be in the room with children at all times. That’s the type of protocol parents should ask about and look for when choosing a program for their child.

Other daycares are embracing technology to keep kids safe.

A Child’s World is a full-time child care center. That means it must be licensed by the state. They go above and beyond that by earning the state’s five-star rating. Administrators at A Child’s World combine best practices with high-tech devices.

It starts at the entrance. Lauren Hayworth is the director of operations. She said, “there’s a code at our front door just for parents and they can’t get in without entering that code at the exterior door. “

Then common sense blends with technology through the hallways and classrooms. Hayworth said, “We really encourage our managers to make frequent laps through the building to check in on the teachers see what they need keep an eye on what’s going on and then we have web cams so the parents have access to the web cams a certain number of times through the day and the manager has access to the web cams all day."

Not every daycare will have this technology, but parents, a reminder for you: Every childcare program whether licensed or not will have someone in charge. Talk to that person. Ask them what they are doing to keep your child safe.

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