SC committee on childcare regulations goes 3 years without meeting

Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 6:40 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - In South Carolina, a committee of 17 people is responsible for keeping daycares safe. Our FOX Carolina Investigates team discovered it’s been almost three years since the group met.

The State Advisory Committee on the Regulation of Childcare Facilities recommends what regulations daycares have to follow, but they haven’t been able to meet since September 2019.

We spoke with one of the most recent appointees, Jessica Sharp, who is also the director of the South Carolina Program for Infant Toddler Care.

“We provide professional development services to childcare programs across the state at no cost to the childcare providers,” Sharp said.

When something goes wrong at a daycare, Sharp’s team gets called in to help make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Last year they were called to Bumblebee Daycare Center in Greenville after investigators said a one-year-old choked to death.

“It is just a horrible, horrible event that should not have to happen,” Sharp said.

So when Sharp was appointed to the State Advisory Committee on the Regulation of Childcare Facilities she was excited. Now she could help make childcare centers safer at the state level.

“Getting this letter and this certificate made me think that maybe they were going to meet soon and so I got very excited to hopefully make some positive changes,” Sharp said.

We reached out to the Department of Social Services, which coordinates the meetings for the committee.

A spokesperson tells us between the pandemic and its fallout, they’ve had their hands full trying to keep childcare centers open. She also said scheduling a meeting with a quorum, meaning eight of the 17 members are present, has been hard.

“... with the requirement that the majority of members be owners or operators of childcare facilities, it has proven difficult to schedule a meeting with a quorum as required by law due to the unique strains experienced by this industry over the past three years,” a DSS spokesperson said in a statement.

However, FOX Carolina News spoke with three of the newest appointees and they said they haven’t heard anything since being appointed last year.

“It is frustrating and it’s concerning because there’s so much good that we could do,” Sharp said.

For example, the current regulations requires just one person at a childcare center be certified in CPR. Sharp would like to see more people be required to go through training, especially after seeing what happened at Bumblebee Daycare Center last year.

“The babies can’t wait. The families can’t wait. They need us and we need to start meeting so we can make these important changes to save lives,” Sharp said.

DSS officials said they hope to schedule a meeting before the end of the year. We’ve heard from at least one of the committee members that they’ve been contacted about meeting since we started making calls.