News » Citydesk

Abuse at what cost?


It's the phone call no parent ever wants to get. Your child has been injured while at day care. Worse yet, the injuries were inflicted by the person in whom you entrusted your child's safety.

On July 3, John Seekamp, 40, and Dawn Seekamp, 37, of Meridian were charged with felony injury to a child. Dawn Seekamp was arrested on July 1 after detectives received a report that a 1-year-old child in her care had suffered a femur fracture while at Building Blocks Daycare, a state-licensed day care run out of the Seekamps' house.

According to the Ada County Sheriff's Office, an investigation into the child's injuries led officers to serve a search warrant on the couple's home. They found "deplorable conditions that posed serious health and safety risks to the children living and being cared for there."

A bill that would have revised and extended licensing requirements for child-care providers in Idaho died in the State Senate Health and Welfare Committee earlier this year, as it has for many years. Current code provides for minimum health and safety standards for centers with 13 or more children, but not for those with six or fewer. Minimal regulation is provided in the current code for those with seven to 12 children in their care.

Sen. Tim Corder, a Republican from Mountain Home, says he and Rep. George Sayler, a Coeur d'Alene Democrat, are still working to get that legislation passed. He said they recently had representatives from the Department of Health and Welfare, the Idaho Child Care Program and various health districts come together because the burden of figuring out who would carry the costs and regulate the licensing is on them.

Corder said that opponents of the bill are not only concerned with the costs, but want evidence of the kinds of abuse that would warrant regulation of even the smallest of day cares. He said that he and his fellow policymakers need proof. They need information. They need to hear from people who have seen or been somehow affected by abuse happening in day cares. But that sounds like a witch hunt.

"It is a witch hunt," Corder said. "But a legitimate one."