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Illegal daycares, complaints on the rise
County forced to return unspent daycare licensing funding
Barton County Health Dept.jpg
The Barton County Health Department has to return unspent child care licensing to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

It is always a shame when Barton County has to return unspent state funding to the state. It is a particularly unfortunate that the Barton County Commission Monday was asked to approved the return of unspent funds for child care licensing.

“She’s right now seeing more and more illegal daycares,” Public Health Director Shelly Schneider said of the one person the county charges to handle daycare licensing. “She’s also seeing more and more complaints on these daycares.” 

So job that was just going out yearly and doing a daycare survey now increasingly involves much more.

Barton County applies for and receives Child Care Licensing funding from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. For Fiscal Year 2019, the county received $120,000. 

Public Health Director Shelly Schneider said the county had sought more than it had in the past with hopes offering a higher salary and of having two full-time employees. 

The department hired Kori Hammeke, she said. “But during the fiscal year, KDHE did not allow the Health Department to implement required training.”

This put the kibosh on hiring anyone else. 

“I have no reasoning behind that,” she said of why the state won’t offer the training. “It makes no sense.”

Barton County covers six counties for daycare licensing. In addition to Barton, included are Ellsworth, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties.

“She has a lot of windshield time,” Schneider said. She can rack up 2,000 miles in three months.

In addition, KDHE has increased the requirements for those tasked with licensing at the county level. They must have a four-year degree and experience in child welfare.

“Truly, in my opinion, she needs another part-time person in her area, if not a full-time position,” Schneider said. But, the training must be handled by the state. 

“We have a very good trainer, she’s top notch,” said of the state employee who provides the education. “They just have their people spread so thin that they don’t want to invest the time.”

Furthermore, the training for this is so incredibly in-depth,” she said. Hammeke underwent about three months of complete supervision.

Her office used some of the remaining funds for transportation and other needs, but couldn’t spend it all. This resulted in Barton County not fully expending the funding allocated by the KDHE, requiring the return of $2,642.36.

History could repeat itself, she said. With this year as guide, Schneider asked for less from the state, but was awarded $120,000 for a second year.

As a side note, Schneider said state guidelines and safety requirements to operate daycares have increased as well. “This is kind of hard because you’re asking more of them.”

The field was already very regulated and controlled. Complaints come from a wide variety of sources,” Schneider said.

According to Kansas Child Care Licensing Law, anyone providing care for children other than those related by blood, marriage or adoption must be licensed with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.