NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Federalizing Child Day Care

September 10, 1999

Political observers are warning about a seemingly innocuous new benefit for federal workers: on- site day-care centers for their children. Critics say that the plan, which is part of the Treasury/Postal Appropriations bill, would create a whole new federal bureaucracy with the power to regulate the entire child- care industry.

  • The House provision, sponsored by Rep. Connie Morella (R- Md.), grants the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) the power to "issue regulations necessary to carry out" establishment of "an executive agency which provides or proposes to provide child-care services for federal employees."
  • The Senate version of the plan, sponsored by Sen. Jim Jeffords (R-Vt.), allows OPM to regulate such things as the design of facilities, personnel qualifications and training, "developmental appropriateness" of educational activities and staff accreditation.
  • Critics fear that such open-ended language will in a few years lead to such regulations being applied to the huge flow of federal dollars going to states, municipalities, schools and even private firms.
  • They predict day-care costs will skyrocket, small providers will be driven out, big providers will dominate the market and parents will be left with less choice.

The Department of Defense, which runs its own extensive day-care system, supports the plan. Observers find it ominous that DOD's general counsel, Judith Miller, wrote the following to Rep. Morella: "This sets the stage to make the entire federal government a model for the country in the provision of affordable child care."

Source: Patrick Fagan (Heritage Foundation), "Government Child Care Creep," Washington Times, September 10, 1999.


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