Not all day care is created equal. Full-care centers must be licensed and must comply with state regulations, while short-term, drop-in centers have little to no oversight.
"We are getting concerns from parents, saying 'You know, I notice this happening at this facility,'" Missoula County Environmental Health Specialist Alisha Johnson said.
Now the Missoula County Board of Health is considering passing new drop-in rules.
"Ensuring safe food, water, adequate waste water and solid waste disposal," Johnson said. "Making sure that children and staff are healthy when they're at the facility, rather than showing up ill and possibly spreading disease to other children in care."
They could also require proof of immunization. County officials say they've heard that some parents whose kids aren't vaccinated are using drop-in centers for full-time child care, to get around providing vaccination records at licensed facilities.
"All we have to do is look down or up the valley to look at the Pertussis incident that is happening right now, and we could have the same thing happen here," County Commissioner Jean Curtiss said.
"That's a very real scenario that could happen at one of these facilities if prevention mechanisms are not put in place like these regulations," Johnson said.
Dallas Neil runs a local gym that also offers drop-in child care. He says he hopes the board will allow a grace period, to give parents a chance to adjust to any new drop-in rules.
"People are not accustomed to carrying their immunization records, unless they're enrolling their kids in school or they're taking them to a licensed daycare facility," Neil said.
Johnson plans to compile all public comments and write a new draft of the proposed regulations. The board will revisit the issue at its next meeting on May 17.
You can read the regulations draft the board reviewed Thursday by clicking here.