In 2002, Sen. Claire McCaskill's audit on child-care providers called for sweeping changes in the way day-care facilities are run.
Five years later, has anything changed?
State legislators and day-care advocacy groups say things haven't changed.
"There has not been any legislation or any rule regulations passed," said Andie Schleicher, executive director of the Child Day Care Association in St. Louis. "There have been changes, but nothing has passed. There are a lot of people working on it."
Jeanette Mott Oxford, state representative for the 59th District in St. Louis, is one of those people. She's been working to improve income guidelines for subsidized child care for more than three years.
"Other child-care legislation has been in the works, but it's my understanding that nothing has been done to address the problems the audit pointed out," she said. "Part of the problem is that no House committee is charged with overseeing child-care issues, and I think that's a real shame."
The audit, conducted when McCaskill was the state auditor, said day-care regulations do not adequately limit the number of children allowed in a day-care facility and penalties are too weak to deter providers from breaking the law.
Not only is punishment lacking, according to the audit, but there is no standard criteria for penalizing providers when there has been a violation.
Child care providers are required to be licensed in Missouri if they care for more than four children, according to the audit, but bureau officials suspect there are several thousand unlicensed child care facilities operating in Missouri.
Another problem is that state law allows a licensed family child-care home to care for 10 unrelated children — and an unlimited number of related children.
Brewer said the problem with being allowed to have an unlimited number of related children is that there could be way too many kids at the facility and too few adults.
The death of an infant at an unlicensed day-care facility in Nixa earlier this year brought attention to problems at unlicensed day-care centers.
Police said the 4-month-old died accidentally. However, there were 16 children in the home being supervised by only one adult when the infant died.
The owner was charged with operating a child care facility without a state license and could face up to a year in the Christian County Jail and a maximum $1,000 fine if convicted of the Class A misdemeanor.
Brewer said people should report unlicensed facilities they believe are violating guidelines to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, or talk to the prosecuting attorney in their county.
email Claire McCaskill and let her know you appreciate what she's doing, and ask for a follow up audit on child day cares in Missouri!