The state’s new law governing the number of adults a child-care center must have per child takes effect July 1, and some child-care centers still do not know how it will affect them.
For years, Idaho law has required one child-care worker for every 12 children, of any age. That drew criticism as one of the worst ratios permitted by law in the country, especially with regard to infants.
Child-care experts say children are safer, learn better and receive better care in situations where there are fewer children per adult.
The 1997 Idaho Legislature changed the law, reducing the maximum number of infants allowed per child-care worker from 12 to six, but increasing the number of children age 5 and up allowed per worker, from 12 to 18.
The ratio of one worker per 12 children remains in effect for children between 19 months and age 4.
The new ratios bring Idaho closer to the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s recommended ratio of one worker per four infants.
The one-to-six ratio was supported by the Idaho Child Care Association, which was trying to balance what is best for infants with what is best for child-care centers’ bottom lines.