Five years ago Colorado regulators created a stir with proposed child-care facility rules that sought to micromanage nearly every aspect of operations, from what kind of pictures could be on walls to the ethnic breakdown of dolls, to mind-numbing details of what kinds of toys and how many of each were required.
Even proper eye contact was to be prescribed. It would have to be "culturally sensitive."
Thankfully, the state backed off on many of the more heavy-handed proposals that had critics howling.
Last month, the Colorado Board of Human Services approved a passel of more reasonable regulations that will go into effect Feb. 1 for the state's 2,000 licensed child- care facilities that serve about 100,000 kids.
Rules should be smart, achievable and not an overreach, to paraphrase goals enunciated in 2o11 by Colorado Department of Human Services Director Reggie Bicha.
In developing these rules, regulators held public comment sessions in 33 cities with providers and community members. In the process, they listened to feedback and devised a number of generally sensible rules that even some of the loudest critics of the draft version now appreciate.
They are still go into considerable detail, of course, regarding matters such as nutrition, staffing, qualifications and activities, among other things, but don't go overboard as before.
The new regulations pay particular attention to the vexing problem of childhood obesity.
Unfortunately, for a state that has been hailed as the leanest in the country among adults, children are not faring as well. Colorado ranks as the 23rd most obese state for children and is the second fastest growing in that category, behind Nevada.
The new rules ban sugary drinks from facilities, provide for more physical activity and forbid television viewing for children younger than 2, while limiting viewing to 30 minutes a week for children older than that.
These steps, now codified, are a good way to start kids early with healthy lifestyles.
The rules also call for facilities to provide "individualized social and emotional intervention supports for children who need them." The changes are aimed at reducing the number of suspensions and expulsions.
For this to work, the state must keep its promise to make mental health consultants available at no charge and provide training on how to handle challenging children.
These are indeed smart rules crafted in a conscientious manner with a goal of keeping kids healthy and safe.
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