Statistically, very few children are seriously injured or die in child care centers. Parents in West Virginia can credit strict state regulations in part for the low injury and fatality rates. Parents in many other states cannot say the same, though: Their children's safety may be the result of nothing more than sheer dumb luck.
The federal government would like that to change, and that means an almost total overhaul of safety, health and program quality regulations to back up federal funding. Right now, parents trust about 1.6 million children in this country to federally subsidized child care centers without having a complete grasp of how those centers measure up.