OSSE’s Latest Target: Parent-Led Playgroups

Last year, IWV wrote a letter in response to the new rule passed in Washington, D.C. requiring that all childcare workers must have a college degree by 2020 or else be out of a job.

If enacted, this new requirement will harm daycare workers (who are disproportionally women and minorities), make childcare more expensive than it already is, and result in lower quality care for children.

For now, at least, the deadline has been pushed to 2023.

But if you think this delay means that someone recognizes that this is simply terrible policy, think again. The D.C. government has a new target: parent-led playgroups.

Washington D.C.’s Office of State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) is working to shut down a parent-run playgroup in the DC area for two-year-olds called The Capitol Hill Cooperative Playschool (CHCPS). This group has no paid staff and is led by parents who get together and watch the children one or two days a week while they play. OSSE has threatened to shut down CHCPS if the parents do not agree to hire paid staff (including a center director with a degree in early childhood education), get licensed, and adhere the same laws that licensed daycare providers must follow under the Child Development Facilities Regulation Act of 1998.

This is not the only parent playgroup that has been threatened by OSSE. Last year, OSSE targeted a Petworth playgroup, ultimately leaving the group with no choice but to move to a federal building that is outside of OSSE’s jurisdiction.

Supporters of OSSE’s latest actions say it’s necessary to ensure child safety and well-being. But that logic would have bureaucrats licensing parents before they are allowed to care for their children. And that’s exactly what this is: In a parent playgroup, child safety is in the collective interest of all of the parents.

The most likely outcome of this effort is that playgroups like this in the DC area will shut down altogether. That’s a big loss for parents who want to share the joys and trials of early parenting together. Not to mention this sets a frightening precedent for any individual who regularly attends an informal social gathering like this.

As of right now, parent playgroups are exempt from licensing requirements thanks to emergency legislation passed by the DC Council on October 2, 2018. But this is only temporary solution. Permanent legislation is the only way to fully protect parent playgroups in the DC area from being shut down.

This is exactly what the Parent-led Play Cooperative Amendment Act of 2018, introduced by Councilmembers Allen and Mendelson, aims to do. If enacted, this bill will exempt parent-led play groups from the requirements of the Child Development Facilities Regulation Act. This is the only way to save parent playgroups from being subjected to the unfair requirements pushed by the OSSE.

Do you agree that parent playgroups are being unfairly targeted? Make your voice heard! Be sure to share this article with your friends on social media and use the hashtag #SaveParentPlaygroups.



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