LITTLE ROCK, AR - Owners of daycare facilities around central Arkansas questioned the first major changes to minimum licensing requirements in 45 years.
The Arkansas Department of Human Services' Childcare and Early Childhood Education Division held its fifth and final public input meeting in downtown Little Rock on Thursday.
Tonya Williams with the division says for the most part the input has been positive.
"It feels like a lot of support," Williams says. "I think people have read evidence about what we didn't know 20,30, 40 years ago & what has happened with brain development and child development over those years."
A recent national study by Child Care Aware, ranked Arkansas 49th in preparedness for K-12 education success.
Mollie Ipsen heads up early childhood education at Our House Children's Programs in Little Rock.
"I think the new standards are going to be really good, great actually because we want quality childcare in Arkansas," Ipsen says.
The changes to minimum licensing requirements include a director having a four-year degree in early childhood or a bachelors degree in an unrelated field and four years of experience in early childhood education.
Other rule changes include lowering the infant to adult ratio in facilities from 6:1 to 5:1.
The state says the changes are designed to address more than just keeping kids safe.
"It's important that we also create environments that promote school readiness, that promote learning, support they're learning and have optimal development for young children," Williams says.
The Early Childhood Commission votes on the rules July 15 and then two legislative committees will review the final version of the rules. They take effect 60 days later.
Several of the rules, including the enhanced education requirements, will not apply to daycare facilities already in operation.
Other rules, like child to adult ratio, will apply to all facilities, but facilities will have two years to adhere to the new standards.