- Associated Press - Saturday, January 2, 2016

DENVER (AP) - Colorado officials are promising to help about 2,000 licensed child care centers across the state comply with new rules that will require healthy meals and playground time. There will also be limits on television viewing and a ban on sugary drinks.

Some centers are worried the new rules will put them out of business, but state officials promise there won’t be major problems. The state is also offering to help child care centers meet the new requirements.

The rules will apply to about 100,000 children statewide. Home child care operators will not be affected.

“We’re trying to create a safe and healthy environment for children in Colorado at a time when their brains are developing,” said Kathryn Harris, president of Qualistar Colorado, a statewide nonprofit group that evaluates child care programs.

The new licensing rules were approved last month by the Colorado Board of Human Services. They will go into effect Feb. 1, the Denver Post reported (https://tinyurl.com/qzqzvug).

“These new standards represent a pretty huge step forward for kids in Colorado,” said Jake Williams, executive director for Healthier Colorado, a health advocacy nonprofit.

He said for the first time, there will be statewide standards for nutrition, physical activity and television viewing.

State Sen. Kevin Lundberg, a Republican from Berthoud who is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, said the new rules are more reasonable than previous attempts in the Colorado Legislature to regulate child care centers, but he still has reservations.

He said the new rules do not address the high cost of licensed child care centers in Colorado, and could increase costs for dealing with children with emotional problems.

Mary Ann Snyder, director of Colorado’s Office of Early Childhood, which regulates licensed centers, said licensed care centers will get free training on how to handle challenging children.

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Information from: The Denver Post, https://www.denverpost.com

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