Add this story to the daycare hall of shame. Tanya at the Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog first reported in January about a daycare charging more for feeding a baby expressed breast milk rather than artificial baby milk. It makes no sense whatsoever for a daycare to charge extra for handling breast milk. As Tanya noted, the Centers for Disease Control does not consider breast milk a hazardous bodily fluid and breast milk thus does not require any special handling, protection or storage by the daycare provider. Breast-fed babies are sick less often and less severely, translating into fewer illnesses spreading to the other children and the daycare staff. Furthermore, should a breastfed child acquire conjunctivitis (one of the most common and most contagious ailments contracted at daycare centers), breast milk can be used to treat pink eye quickly and painlessly.
Back in January the mother in question had to remain anonymous because her child was still being cared for by the daycare in question, City Kids Daycare in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Last week she switched daycare providers and contacted Ohio native The Lactivist to tell her story.
According to mother Robin Neorr, when she first contacted City Kids Daycare during her pregnancy in September 2006, it never occurred to her to ask whether the center would have a problem handling expressed breast milk. Why would she have any reason to believe a daycare would or legally could discriminate by refusing to care for breastfed babies? When she followed up in October she learned that the center was not accepting breast milk. When her baby was born shortly thereafter, her lactation consultant became outraged upon hearing the daycare’s discriminatory policies. After a call to complain to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, City Kids changed its policies to accept breast milk but it instituted a $50 per week breast milk surcharge!
In spite of the fact that both the CDC and the Ohio Rules for Licensed Child Care Centers do not call for special precautions when handling breast milk, the day care center insisted upon putting a bio-hazard label on the milk, storing it in a separate refrigerator and buying a separate warming pot.
Now that Robin Neorr has arranged alternate care for her daughter, she is speaking out in the hopes of bringing about change in the law. The Lactivist is hoping to plan a nurse-in or nurse-out (perhaps at the state capitol building rather than the day care center so as not to interfere with the experience of the other children at the center) once the weather improves. In the meantime, you can read more at The Lactivist about how to get involved, contact your Ohio state legislators or offer legal services if you can. You can also read more at the MSNBC discussion boards and Mothering magazine forums.