Burr advances a good child care safety bill

March 18, 2014 

During this week’s congressional recess, the folks back home might give Republican Sen. Richard Burr some heat over all the partisan sniping and gridlock, but let’s hope they give North Carolina’s senator from Winston-Salem a few well-earned pats on the back, too.

Burr normally would be thought of as an unlikely ally of liberal Maryland Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski, but the two came together on the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014. The bill, two years in the making, passed 96-2 in the Senate and appears ready to sail through the House.

This good bill accomplishes many things: It continues 20 years of providing federal grants to states that give child-care vouchers to low-income Americans so they can afford to work. It also requires, for the first time, criminal background checks for child care providers. Some private establishments already conduct checks and many parents do their own informal searches, but now all providers must legally pass muster.

The Burr bill also requires states to use some of the grant money to better train child care employees who work with infants and toddlers, including a special emphasis on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome awareness.

Add to these parts of the bill some additional health and safety standards, and Americans have a very sound piece of legislation that calls to mind the good old days of working across party lines.

“This is how the Senate should run,” Burr said. “Through years of negotiations, meetings with hundreds of interested stakeholders and honest conversations with my colleagues in the Senate, we have taken a positive step toward ensuring our kids are protected while in child care.”

Yes, this is how things should work, and it’s a shame that government rarely manages to function in this fashion. Burr did his part to set a good example – and to help kids and lower-income families.

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