When it comes to day care regulations, one size doesn’t fit all. Here’s a sampler of some of the particulars in states across the Southeast:
n Most Southern states, but not Georgia, require monthly fire drills at day care centers.
n North Carolina is the only state that allows day cares to use corporal punishment, such as spanking. In that state, it’s allowed at religious day cares with parental permission.
n In Florida, day cares are regulated by either the state or the county. Any day care in a county whose standards are weaker than the state’s must get a state license too.
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n Tennessee forbids a day care from releasing a child to anyone — even someone who has been given parental permission — whom “a reasonable person might deem a risk based on their behavior.”
n Mississippi requires that outdoor play areas be free of hazardous levels of toxic substances. If there is any reason to believe they might be present, the day care is responsible for soil testing.
n Georgia, Mississippi and Florida require shade on playgrounds. Mississippi also requires the use of sunscreen.
n Most states, including Georgia, require that children spend a certain amount of time outside daily when the weather allows. Even infants in Georgia are required to have an hour outside daily.
n Mississippi requires that a breast-feeding area be provided to mothers.
n Georgia, Mississippi, Florida and Alabama state the acceptable temperature range for classrooms. In some states, it must be measured with a thermometer at the height of the children.
n Georgia requires more outside space per child — 100 square feet — than any other Southeastern state.
n Tennessee requires that sleeping infants be touched by a caregiver every 15 minutes to check their breathing and body temperature.
n Tennessee rules state that desserts and sweets cannot be used as rewards. Georgia added a rule last year that food should not be used as a reward or punishment.
— S. Heather Duncan