I was pleased to see the guest column “Protect Maine’s youngest residents to ensure better future for us all” in the Feb. 6 Press Herald, focused on the need to ensure children’s safety and well-being while they are in child care.

As this op-ed points out, many of the child care bills currently before the Legislature not only threaten the quality of the programs our children need to succeed, they also threaten the safety of our youngest citizens. That’s a concern to those of us in law enforcement.

When over 70 percent of all Maine children under age 6 have one or both parents in the workforce, we should acknowledge that their families rely on child care providers to provide high-quality care for their kids while they work. We know that ages birth through 3 are the most critical years of brain development. As such, children need to be in learning environments that are best for their social, emotional and cognitive development.

Law enforcement leaders have gone on record in opposition to the removal or weakening of safety requirements and high standards of child care across Maine. We know that the damage that could be done during a child’s formative years by providers who lack proper training and oversight could have long-term effects on our kids.

Our legislators can vote to put kids in unsafe child care environments now, but my deputies and I will be the ones responding to those calls down the line. I can tell you right now – that’s a call a sheriff never wants to get.

As Cumberland County’s sheriff, I firmly believe that we should not pull back child care safety.

Kevin Joyce

Cumberland County sheriff