RENO — Kids Club Day Care director Marianna Ashley and her staff work to provide various activities to young children when they’re in their care during the day, including music and playtime.
Television time, however, comprises only a very small part of a day’s agenda.
“With our children, we do show some educational programming, like Leapfrogs,” Ashley said. “But there are a ton of other things for our kids to do.”
At a meeting of the Washoe County Child Care Advisory Board, Ashley, who oversees the facility located across from the Sparks Senior Center on Richards Way, agreed with the decision not to approve a regulation limit on the amount of TV screen time to 60 minutes at child care facilities and homes.
“First of all, I certainly do agree with the fact that our children, in general, are having way too much screen time,” she said. “That’s been documented. … Like with everything else, there are some really good influences in screen time … but the reality is that an excess of anything isn’t good for us.”
The board examined certain language regarding regulations handed down by the Nevada Legislature that required approval by the county. Alice Ledesma, coordinator of child care licensing with the county, said Washoe County didn’t have the ability to make substantive changes on most of the proposals and were on the agenda for reasons of compliance.
Ledesma said the county is required to be at least as restrictive as the state is about its child care guidelines and can be more so but no less than the state.
However, some of the more interesting issues, like the screen time and water levels when children wade in waters or go swimming, did need to be discussed to set guidelines.
The TV screen time regulation did not pass, Ledesma said, because board members argued it would be too difficult to monitor exactly how long kids watch TV during the day.
“The board recognized there are times when screen time or a DVD can be used appropriately and there was some fairly extensive discussion about that,” Ledesma said. “A restriction (on screen time) would be more detrimental to best practices and I thought that was a fairly good decision.”
Ashley said she faces more problems with parents who allow their children to watch too much TV when they’re at home.
“Usually it’s children talking about movies they’ve seen at home,” Ashley said. “My biggest problem is getting parents to understand the importance of co-viewing and talking with their children about what they’re seeing. Unsupervised, unmonitored screen time is a bigger issue.”
At Kids Club Day Care, which has a capacity of 45 children and can take kids as young as 2 months, TV screen time isn’t the only issue Ashley deals with on a daily basis.
“I’m not a commercial kitchen,” she said. “I don’t have enough kids to be a commercial kitchen. Parents bring their own lunches but we have to serve snacks and I cannot serve a child a whole piece of fruit.”
Due to a conflict in regulations between the county and a chronic disease coalition, she is limited to plastic knives to cut up fruit for small children. But the challenges come in the type of fruit she can feed to kids.
“I can serve grapes and bananas I can cut with a plastic, disposable knife, but are you kidding? Have you tried cutting an apple with a plastic fork?” she said. “That’s where the frustration comes in where you have more than one governing body with different rules.”
She said she recently spoke to her county licensing worker for advice on that issue and she was advised to appeal to the Washoe County Health Department.