Majority of US states and territories do not require day care providers to inform parents of firearms

April 22, 2020

Home- and center-based child care providers are not required by most states or U.S. territories to inform parents when guns are stored on the premises, according to a new study from researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The researchers found that a majority of U.S. states and territories--47 out of 56--do not require either centers or homes that provide child care to disclose to clients that they keep firearms on-site. Less than two-thirds of U.S. states and territories outright prohibit center-based child care operators from having firearms on the premises and only a handful--7 of 56--outright prohibit home-based child care operators from having firearms on the premises.

The study also found that nearly one-quarter of U.S. states and territories (13) had no regulations governing firearms in child care centers, and one-sixth (9) had no regulations governing firearms in family child care homes.

The findings were published online April 22 in JAMA Network Open.

For the study, the researchers surveyed state regulations covering the presence and storage of firearms at child care facilities in the U.S., including dedicated centers as well as home-based facilities.

"It's surprising how few states require notification to parents on whether or not a handgun is present--I think that's a critical gap that should be filled so that parents can make a more informed decision about child care," says study first author Sara Benjamin-Neelon, PhD, JD, the Helaine and Sid Lerner Professor in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society at the Bloomberg School.

While regulations were more likely to outright prohibit firearms in child care centers, family child care homes generally face restrictions on storage procedures only. For example, 46 U.S. states or territories require firearms present in home-based child care settings to be kept under lock and key; 29 require the ammunition to be stored separately; and 23 require the firearms to be unloaded.

There are more than 20 million children age 5 and under in the U.S., and almost two-thirds of them spend a substantial amount of time in center-based or home-based early care and education settings.

This is believed to be the first study that systematically examines firearm-related policies that apply to home- and center-based child care settings. Benjamin-Neelon and co-author Elyse Grossman PhD, JD, a policy fellow at the Bloomberg School, sought to clarify the current situation by reviewing firearm-related regulations, as of June 2019, for early care and education settings in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and the five U.S. territories. The study did not examine the consequences for noncompliance or the number of firearm-related incidents in these settings.

That lack of prohibition on guns in home-based child care settings may stem from legislators' concerns that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects homeowners' rights to keep firearms, Benjamin-Neelon says. She notes that there is an ongoing legal challenge against an Illinois law banning guns from homes that serve as child care facilities.

Benjamin-Neelon and Grossman say they were most surprised by the limited notification requirements, with only 9 of the 56 jurisdictions requiring either operators of child care centers or family child care homes to notify parents when there are firearms present in the home. "States should consider regulations requiring notification to parents if there's a firearm on the premises," Benjamin-Neelon says.

The researchers plan to conduct further studies in this area to determine if stricter laws against firearms correlate with fewer gun-related injuries to children in home- and center-based child care settings.

"State regulations governing firearms in early care and education settings in the United States: A cross-sectional review" was written by Sara E. Benjamin-Neelon and Elyse R. Grossman.

Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to