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They Care for Children, But Fly Below Regulatory Radar - Martial Arts
They Care for Children, But Fly Below Regulatory Radar
GWINNETT COUNTY, GA -- The Song Moo Do Martial Arts College runs a day long summer camp in Gwinnett County for school age children.
And although the facility watches and feeds and entertains children all day, don't call it a day care center. Its operator, Alexander Song, says it's not licensed by the state for child care.
"We don't operate as a child care system here," he said in a roomful of children under his care. "We operate as a martial arts system here, and after school program."
Jaden Smith, son of Will Smith, stars in the the 2010 version of "The Karate Kid" with martial arts legend Jackie Chan.
Advocates for day care centers say that unlicensed karate camps and church camps and after school programs operate under a wide legal loophole that exempts them from many health and safety requirements.
"And their children may not really be protected the way they want them to be," said Carolyn Salvador, director of the Georgia Child Care Association, an advocacy group for licensed day care centers.
Across the street from the Song Moo Do martial arts center, there's a day care center whose staff have to undergo criminal background checks, learn CPR, and get health and sanitary training. That's because it has a state license and is subject to regular state inspections.
"I don't think parents realize, when they put children in an after-school program, that some after-school programs don't have to meet these requirements," said Salvador.
Salvador says the rules are unfair to licensed day care centers, which frequently compete for business with unlicensed facilities. She says parents also expect the same state oversight for both types of facilities.
"A day care center emphasizes children," he said. When we pointed out that he was standing in a roomful of chilren in his care, he answered: "These are children but this is martial arts requirement."
The martial arts center, like hundreds of others, appears to operate within state regulations. It's those rules, Salvador says, that are flawed and broken.
Stacey Moore, a spokeswoman with the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, declined repeated requests for an interview.
How are kiddy krotty day care centres in your area regulated, if at all?