Here’s another case of government over-regulating and attempting to control our lives:
It seemed like such a practical and good arrangement, the kind that moms have been making with each other since the beginning of time: One woman would watch her friends’ kids while they waited for the school bus so the other women could go to their jobs.
And then the Michigan Department of Human Services stepped in to tell the Good Samaritan mother that she was facing fines and possible jail time for running an illegal day care center.
“To me, this is just a friend helping a friend, plain and simple,” Lisa Snyder said during an interview with TODAY’s Matt Lauer from her Middleville, Mich., home Tuesday.
With Snyder were her friends and fellow moms Francie Brummel, Mindy Rose and Lori Forbes, who began the school year by dropping their kids off at Snyder’s house to wait for the school bus. With them was Michigan state Rep. Brian Calley, who is working to change a law that he and the women feel is being misapplied to punish friends and neighbors for helping each other out.
“It takes a village, but I guess in Michigan we’re saying it takes a licensed village,” Calley told Lauer, referring to the title of Hillary Clinton’s book about raising children.
An unwelcome letter
The bizarre story began on Sept. 8, the first day of school, when Brummel, Rose and Forbes dropped their young children off at Snyder’s home in a rural neighborhood to wait for the bus. The kids all regularly played together and they were at Snyder’s house for not even an hour every morning.
But just three days later, on Sept. 11, Snyder got a letter from the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) telling her that someone — presumably another neighbor — had complained that she was running an illegal day care center. Snyder was told that she had to either get a license to run such a service, or face fines and up to 90 days in jail.
The law, which dates back to 1973, says that anyone who watches an unrelated person’s child for a period of 28 days a year is running a day care center and has to have a license. It doesn’t matter if the child is being watched for five minutes a day or five hours.
So if you are “merely” a family friend or neighbor and happen to babysit the kid 28 days in a year or host more than one birthday party or slumber party for your own kids, you have to license your home as a daycare center?! This sounds like you could apply the same law if your own child invites a playdate to spend time over at your house, as well. (Note: I wrote this thought before reading further down)
‘Buy an umbrella’
Snyder then called the DHS to try to find out why she needed a license when she was just watching her friends’ children and wasn’t being paid.
“I started asking questions, and I told them I thought it was ridiculous,” Snyder said. “Some of the answers that they gave me, I just started getting angry, and I said, ‘I don’t agree with this.’
“I said that the children should be able to come into my house if it’s raining or there’s a snowstorm,” Snyder went on. “The lady said to me, plain and simple, ‘Tell the parents to buy an umbrella.’ She was serious.”
The supposed purpose of requiring people to file for a daycare license is what, exactly? Perhaps to create a safe and healthy environment for children? Do you suppose the state of Michigan is creating just that with this kind of braindead application of the law? Perhaps Michigan should be required to apply for a childcare license to demonstrate that it is qualified to look after the welfare of its state’s children.
Snyder also asked if the kids could come to her house for playdates. She was told that if the children’s parents were at home during the playtime it was OK, but if they dropped the kids off to play and then went to the store or out to dinner, it was no longer a playdate — it was day care.
‘Difficult to believe’
Calley, who got involved when one of Snyder’s friends told him about the situation, agrees that it’s absurd.
“I found it very difficult to believe when I read the letter and the account of what happened,” the state legislator told Lauer. “I thought surely I must be missing something. I called the department personally, and they confirmed that the letter and everything in it was true, and that it was the position of the department that a day care license was necessary for the kids to wait for the bus in this house.”
Lauer suggested that if one of the children were injured while in Snyder’s care, there could be legal issues, and that might be a basis for the DHS position.
“I understand the idea of regulating a business in that way, but when friends are helping friends, I think parents are in much better position to determine what’s safe for their kids than the Department of Human Services,” Calley replied. “There’s no amount of testing or interviews or applications that somebody could fill out and send them to the Department of Human Services that would make them more capable of determining a safe environment for kids than the parents themselves.”
FA friends and countrymen, please note: Rep. Brian Calley who serves people not politics is a Republican. *Ahem*….just sayin’….
James Gale of the Michigan Department of Human Services confirmed the facts of the case and told NBC News that the department must look into all complaints about illegal day care centers. “In the interest of protecting children, we will investigate all allegations or complaints of unlicensed child care.”
And then after investigating Snyder, DHS will have determined, out of common sense, that the complaint is misapplied, right?
Snyder is sure that one of her neighbors must have complained, but said she has no idea who it might be.
Despite the DHS warning, Snyder continues to allow two of her friends’ children to wait for the bus at her house. Brummel has stopped dropping her son off while they wait for the issue to be resolved. And Calley is working to rewrite the law to allow people who aren’t paid to look after friends’ children.
“The law itself is taken way out of context. It’s meant to regulate the business of providing day care services. It’s not meant to apply to friends helping friends in this way,” Calley said. “What I’d like to do is clarify the law and take away the ability of the department to apply in this way.”
Added Forbes: “It’s not a day care — it’s a bus stop.”
This is just utter stupidity. I suppose since I help a friend carpool her child to gymnastics practice, I need at least a taxi license and a childcare license in addition to my regular driver’s license. If I get reimbursed gas money (which I don’t) or paid for my services, I suppose I’d also have to get a business license; just like kids selling lemonade on the neighborhood sidewalk. It’s not safe- either for the child or the consumer, since she could be kidnapped and the customer could get sick from spoiled lemonade or from an unsanitary lemonade stand. (I guess if I should be disallowed from giving my child’s friend any snacks, either, since I’m an unlicensed food handler).
GOOD GRIEF, GOVERNMENT!
A former fetus, the “wordsmith from nantucket” was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1968. Adopted at birth, wordsmith grew up a military brat. He achieved his B.A. in English from the University of California, Los Angeles (graduating in the top 97% of his class), where he also competed rings for the UCLA mens gymnastics team. The events of 9/11 woke him from his political slumber and malaise. Currently a personal trainer and gymnastics coach.
The wordsmith has never been to Nantucket.