Overhauling day care servicesParents who leave their children at day care centers have only one interest at heart - the well-being of their children. But they may have to give up their hope given the long list of corruption and abuse charges against day care institutions that we hear on the news these days.
Now, parents search for centers with CCTV and state certificates, but these do not ensure the safety of their children.
According to the JoongAng Ilbo’s investigative reporting of day care centers under scrutiny by the Songpa District Police for alleged embezzlement and abuse of government subsidies, 85 percent were certified by the Seoul Metropolitan Government for service and facility quality. As it turns out, however, day care centers lied to pass the state evaluation and, therefore, the certificates cannot be entirely trusted. This is why parents are anxious about child care services.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare proposed a bill to change the child care law to toughen punishments against day care centers found with corruption or child abuse by restricting their certifications for up to 10 years. But this law cannot put parents’ minds at ease because they just do not trust day care centers anymore. Experts point to fundamental problems in the day care industry.
The number of day care centers has risen dramatically since authorities loosened licensing requirements in 1991. The market for buying and selling licenses grew quickly, and caregivers were able to find work after a short period of training without thorough evaluations. They easily obtained certifications even by taking online courses, inundating the industry with unqualified and cheap labor.
As a result, the day care industry turned into a profit-making business instead of an education field, and the quality of administrators at these facilities was called into question.
Without addressing these problems, the government pumped in public funds to subsidize the industry and worsened the problem. Competition became fierce to get more state funds, breeding accounting fraud and other irregularities.
But child care cannot be given up. First of all, standards must be raised and supervision toughened. Experts advise a stricter evaluation system to raise the quality of caregivers and administrators. Authorities should also hear out complaints regarding salaries and other problems in the industry in order to improve working conditions.
Since day care is now a public service, staff should be held to the same standards as kindergarten teachers.