INDIANAPOLIS - A national report ranks Indiana last when it comes to home day care standards.
The 2012 Leaving Children To Chance report, issued by the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, or NACCRRA, gave Indiana a score of zero because the state does not require a license for small home day cares.
Under Indiana law, individuals only need a license if they care for six or more unrelated children.
NARCCA used 16 benchmarks for the report including frequency of state inspections, background checks and training.
Oklahoma, Washington and Kansas ranked among the top states for home day care standards.
Child care advocates in Indiana told Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney that while the report contains good information for families, it does not tell the whole story.
"For a home provider, they can care for up to five unrelated children as well as their own children, so the numbers can be large," said Melanie Brizzi, administrator for FSSA’s Bureau of Child Care. "Most states do regulate smaller numbers than Indiana."
On Jan. 24, 5-month-old Conor Tilson died at an unlicensed home day care after being found in a broken collapsible crib, police said.
Investigators said Stacey Cox Home Day Care was operating illegally and two caregivers tested positive for drug use.
The Hamilton County coroner has yet to release an official cause of death.
"If your provider is not licensed, you can't be assured certain things have occurred," Brizzi said. "For example, safe sleep training. Every provider should have safe sleep training."
Mindy Bennett, programs director for referral agency Child Care Answers, told RTV6 the national report highlights Indiana's confusing day care system.
"It doesn’t surprise me," Bennett said. "Child care in Indiana has lots of different exemptions."
The national report recommends Indiana start licensing even the smallest of home day cares, including requiring background checks, training and inspections.
"In many states, if you care for more than one child for pay, you’re required to have a license," Bennett said. "This isn’t grandma caring for children. It’s caring for children for pay."
FSSA points out Indiana has more than 100 home day care providers at the highest level of Paths to Quality, a voluntary rating and improvement system.
"Families just need to be very careful what they’re looking for, but there’s a lot of high quality home providers available," Brizzi said.