Federal Officials Seek to Regulate Children’s Playgroup

If some bureaucrats in D.C. had their way, you would be required to get a license from the federal government to allow your child to take part in a regular playgroup with other parents. Federal officials are deciding the fate of one such group that has held regular meetings at a local church since the 1970s.

The Capitol Hill Cooperative Play School has operated as a voluntary cooperative since the 1970s. Each week, participating 2-year-olds gather in a room at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation for three hours, one to three days each week. The playgroup has no staff. Parents rotate watching the kids. Toddlers make new friends. Parents get flexible child care and build friendships through the partnership. The church gets new people in the door.

This type of voluntary program is a win-win for families and the community. Each year, the cooperative is handed down to a new group of parents who wish to take responsibility for it and give their toddlers the chance to play together.

The D.C. government has left the Capitol Hill Cooperative Play School alone — until two months ago.

On Sept. 7, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education investigators inspected a playgroup of toddlers to assess whether the cooperative was an illegal daycare. The investigators issued Capitol Hill Cooperative Play School parents a “statement of deficiencies,” alleging that the Capitol Hill Cooperative Play School was violating the regulations that apply to a “child development facility.”

District rules for a “child development facility” include a requirement to obtain a license to operate, which would likely mean the end of the voluntary cooperative. But the D.C. Code already includes an exemption for “informal parent-supervised neighborhood play groups.”

The Capitol Hill Cooperative Play School parents have developed some simple rules over the years. Supervising parents should not be distracted by their work or phones during the playgroup. Parents are required to submit emergency contact information and medical treatment forms for each child. Families must report to the group when their toddler has a contagious illness. The group has a plan for what to do in the event of an emergency.

These seem like wise precautions to take in the best interest of the children. But to the D.C. government, these rules are evidence that the parents are running an illegal child-care facility. Ironically, if the Office of the State Superintendent of Education has its way and is allowed to regulate this playgroup out of existence, it would be creating a disincentive for parents to self-regulate, as a playgroup with no safety rules would presumably be on stronger legal standing.

Once again we have a story of government run amuck. This type of regulatory encroachment could be the first step toward broader government overreach. Of course, any communist government wants and needs to gain control of the basic unit of society – the family.

Source: Washington Post


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