Minnesota lawmakers appear in favor of new state guidelines recommending that home-based child care providers physically check on sleeping infants in their homes every 15 to 30 minutes. This was a compromise from initial legislation that would have made such checks mandatory -- in an effort to curb the recent increase in child deaths in Minnesota's home day cares.

But while this legislation inches closer to passage -- the state House has approved the measure and the Senate appears close to doing so -- at least one national expert doesn't believe it will make a substantial impact. Amie Lapp Payne, a child care consultant in Texas, wrote an influential national study on child care regulations and how they vary state to state.

A recommendation of 15-minute checks might not change much, she said. “If it’s a requirement, then it’s enforceable. If it’s just a recommendation, then it is not enforceable.”

Whether Minnesota requires or recommends 15-minute checks of sleeping infants in home day cares, Payne said the state might be better off taking its safety efforts in a different direction. She was more concerned that Minnesota currently only requires home day-care providers to be within sight OR sound of sleeping infants -- when some states require providers to always be within sight AND sound.
It would be very difficult for Minnesota inspectors to enforce 15-minute bed checks by home day-care providers, she said, unless the inspectors stayed at homes long enough to monitor whether providers were doing this throughout the course of a day. On the other hand, it would be very easy for inspectors to check on whether providers had the technology to always monitor sleeping infants
“It’s just not that expensive to get a monitor that has sight and sound abilities. It really isn’t,” she said. “For $150, you can have sight and sound.”
Interestingly, the entire debate breaks with the latest recommendations regarding where to place sleeping infant in home day cares. Last year, the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education recommended that day-care providers stop placing infants to sleep in out-of-site locations or on different levels of their homes.
COMMENTS: It is best practice for the caregiver/teacher to remain in the same room as the infants when they are sleeping to provide constant supervision. However in small family child care programs, this may be difficult in practice because the caregiver/teacher is typically alone, and all of the children most likely will not sleep at the same time. In order to provide constant supervision during sleep, caregivers/teachers could consider discontinuing the practice of placing infant(s) in a separate room for sleep, but instead placing the infant’s crib in the area used by the other children so the caregiver/teacher is able to supervise the sleeping infant(s) while caring for the other children. Care must be taken so that placement of cribs in an area used by other children does not encroach upon the minimum usable floor space requirements. Infants do not require a dark and quiet place for sleep. Once they become accustomed, infants are able to sleep without problems in environments with light and noise.

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