Government Babysitting Interference Annoys Mothers
Two mothers in England who were babysitting each others' children were told by inspectors earlier this week that they were breaking the law for babysitting without a license. In Michigan, a woman has received a warning for taking care of her neighbours' kids for an hour each day.
Lisa Snyder from Irving Township, Michigan, looked after three of her neighbors' children for an hour in the mornings before they left for school, as their parents took off for work. She considered this a favor, something neighbors do for each other - but state officials disagreed. A few weeks into the school year, Snyder received a letter from the Michigan Department of Human Services, stating that she needs to get a license for running a day care centre. She later found out another neighbor had filed a complaint against her.
The case has angered parents in Michigan who say they depend on friends and neighbors' help to balance work and family. It has also sparked a debate regarding laws for childcare in Michigan, and Human Services Director Ismael Ahmed has proposed a change in the law to allow neighbors to babysit.
"Being a good neighbor means helping your neighbors who are in need," Ahmed said in a written statement. "This could be as simple as providing a cup of sugar, monitoring their house while they're on vacation or making sure their children are safe while they wait for the school bus."
In England, two police officers in Buckingham who took care of each other's children while working shifts - Detective Constables Leanne Shephers and Lucy Jarret - were told they broke the 2006 Childcare Act by providing childcare without a license. The reason was that the child care lasted longer than two hours per day, and was carried out on domestic premises for "reward". Ofsted, a childcare inspection agency, requires childminders to take a training course and pay them an annual fee of £103 ($165).
Ofsted has since been advised by Minister of State for Schools and Learners Vernon Coaker to revise its policies, and change the interpretation of what constitutes a "reward".
"There must be thousands of people out there who are doing the same thing who are now going to think: 'Do I have to spend £300 a week or whatever it is?'"
"To think that they would waste their time and effort on innocent people who are trying to provide for their families by returning to the workplace... Surely their time and effort would be better placed elsewhere."
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Clearlake, California, United States