The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed a new regulation Thursday that will better ensure children's health and safety in child care and promote school readiness, a measure that is timely following a growing number of high-profile media reports of children suffering injuries - and even dying - while in child care.

The proposed rule would require care providers funded by the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) to receive health and safety training in specific areas, comply with local fire, health, and building codes, and receive on-site monitoring. The CCDF serves about 1.6 million low-income children in the U.S. and includes more than 500,000 providers.

According to The Washington Post, these new regulations would be the first federal health and safety standards for child care in nearly fifteen years. HHS officials said President Obama was "adamant" about instituting new regulations, spurred by new research on how significant the early years of one's life are to brain development.

Currently, the health and safety standards for child care are mostly state-regulated. The newly proposed rule would supersede any current state rule, making the standards more uniform across the country. Under the rule, states would be required to share information with parents about provider health, safety, and licensing information through user-friendly websites. "This proposal would give parents the necessary tools to choose quality care that fully meets their needs," said Shannon Rudisill, director of the Office of Child Care.

"Many children already benefit from the excellent care of high-quality child care providers who are meeting or exceeding the proposed requirements," said HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "However, too many children remain in setting that so not meet minimum standards of health and safety. These basic rules ensure that providers take necessary basic steps to shield children from an avoidable tragedy."