Inspector behaved honorably

To the editor:

I speak on behalf of the state inspector who remains in limbo after being suspended from her work with child care providers in Wasco and other eastern counties in Oregon. She has been linked with the case involving three women charged in the death of an infant in their child care home in Hood River a year ago. The trial date has been pushed to later this summer from earlier dates in winter and spring.

I have worked with this inspector nearly 29 years in my career as a Child Care Provider. When I first got started, she and a partner owned a childcare center in Hood River. This was a time when women were still ‘babysitting’ for a dollar an hour per child in their homes. Oregon was just beginning to develop a system for the health and safety of children in child care settings.

This inspector has been involved helping to develop our system at every step. She is respected, locally and statewide, for her collaborative efforts with providers and administrators in countless planning group sessions and trainings, as well as inspections of registered or certified child care homes and centers.

I imagine her work as an inspector, for years driving rural Oregon, finding the different locations and situations where children have been cared for while their parents are at their jobs. Not all of those sites were pleasant or safe. One of her roles was to make connection with people suspicious of interference, wary of her presence. She had to find a way to engage, encourage, improve situations or to shut down operations that were not willing or able to comply with the growing requirements.

Now as she nears the end of this challenging career, she must endure waiting, wondering when, or if, she can go back to her work. There is no celebration of what she has accomplished, just an unclear account, out in the communities, of what the link to that tragedy might be for her.

I do not have all the facts of this case, but I do know this; she has been a strong, no-nonsense advocate for children’s health and well being all the years that I have known her. She deserves a fair, timely resolution in the Hood River legal system, as her life and work are on hold. She deserves recognition from Oregonians for her contributions toward a more professional, better quality environment for our children.

Karen Harding

StarShine ChildLife Habitat

Mt Hood

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