There is no question that we must make child care availability and quality a high priority in Maine. I am a child care provider in Maine and I write in response to the Feb. 15 letter on deregulating child care (“Regulations needlessly add to expense of child care”).

There is always room to improve regulations and their implementation, but it would be a huge mistake to remove regulations that protect our children’s safety, including those that maintain safe ratios and require background checks before employees have contact with children.

Three proposals before the Health and Human Services Committee of the Maine Legislature, L.D. 1423, L.D. 1474 and L.D. 765, would remove these and other protections. There is no purpose in having more child care spots available in Maine if they put children at risk.

Imagine one adult trying to safely take care of six infants, seven 1-year-olds, 12 2-year-olds, 18 3-year-olds or 20 4-year-olds by themselves. Imagine those ratios legally increasing from there because a staff member is out sick. Imagine allowing new employees to have contact with children for 90 days before background checks clear. These proposed measures would decrease the quality of programs available to families, allow businesses to legally take advantage of parents desperate for care, and put children at risk.

Make no mistake – we do have a child care problem in Maine. But removing regulations that protect our state’s most vulnerable children, who cannot speak up if something is wrong, who will be affected for the rest of their lives by the quality of care they receive now, is not the way to improve the state of things.

Katherine Wright

Harpswell