Jun 16, 2016

Governor Signs Bill into Law Aimed at Helping Ensure Safe, Quality Childcare Options for Families

BATON ROUGE, La. – Today, Governor John Bel Edwards ceremonially signed into law House Bill 197 by Representative Steve Pylant (Republican – Dist. 20). The new law creates criminal penalties for individuals found to be operating a child day care center without a valid license, continued operation of a child day care center after notification from the Department of Education that the operator must seek a license, or continued operations of a child day care center following revocation of a license. This law is a result of a collaborative effort between the Child Care Association of Louisiana, Louisiana State Police, the Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association.

“Over a year ago, Angel Gabrielle Green, a toddler, lost her life after being cared for at an illegal daycare facility. We must do everything we can to protect our children and ensure that safe, quality childcare is available,” said Governor John Bel Edwards. “This legislation sends a clear message that we value our children too much to place them in harm’s way, and we will work tirelessly to prevent anyone from operating a daycare center in our state illegally.”

“We take the welfare of Louisiana’s youngest learners very serious. We’re not going to allow unsafe child care centers to operate in this state,” said State Superintendent John White. “This law provides the teeth necessary to help prevent instances where egregious violators are found to have a total disregard for the laws of our state, putting the safety of our children in jeopardy.”

“This is a good law for Louisiana to ensure the safety of our youngest citizens. I was happy to have sponsored this bill,” said Rep. Steve Pylant. “Law enforcement around the state will now have the tools they need to help ensure nobody continues to operate an unsafe, unlicensed day care center in Louisiana, helping increase the quality of available childcare for families.”

Under the new law, upon notification, Department of Education licensing staff will conduct a site visit to determine if a center is required by law to have a license issued by the Department, or if the center is operating without a valid, Department-issued license. After determining the center’s licensing status in respect to the state law, the Department will turn over any evidence to law enforcement for any arrest for violations of state law.

Penalties for violations include:

  • First Offense: fine of not more than $1,000 or not more than six months in jail, or both.
  • Second Offense: fine of not more than $2,500 or not more than six months in jail, or both; ineligible to apply for a child care license for a period up to 24 months.
  • Third or Subsequent Offenses: fine of not more than $5,000 or not more than 12 months in jail, or both; ineligible to apply for a child care license for a period up to 48 months.

A child day care center is defined as any place or facility operated by any institution, society, agency, corporation, person or persons, or any other group for the purpose of providing care, supervision, and guidance of 7 or more children, not including those related to the caregiver, unaccompanied by parent or guardian, on a regular basis for at least 12 1/2 hours in a continuous 7-day week. Related or relative is defined as the natural or adopted child or grandchild of the caregiver or a child in the legal custody of the caregiver. Any hours needed by the child day care center to transport children to and from the facility shall be included in the calculation of the 12 1/2 hours of operation.

“The Child Care Association of Louisiana applauds Representative Steve Pylant, the Louisiana Legislature, and Governor John Bel Edwards for House Bill 197 which makes it a misdemeanor to operate an early learning center without a license,” said Jonathan Pearce, President of the Child Care Association of Louisiana. “Children are our most precious resource and must be protected. Our centers are licensed which means we are subject to high standards and are inspected on a regular basis so parents can trust that their children will be safe with us.”

“As a resource and referral organization, we are committed to helping families find safe child care options for their children. Unfortunately not all families know to call us,” said Lynn Clark, Executive Director of Children’s Coalition of Northeast Louisiana. “Thanks to this new law, families will be less likely to accidentally place their children in an unlicensed, unsafe facility. Our young children are our greatest assets and this law takes important steps to better protect them.”

“As a society, we have a moral obligation to ensure our young children are safe, especially those under three. For too long, too many Louisianan children have been exposed to dangerous conditions in unlicensed, underground facilities. This law helps put a stop to this. The future of our state depends on our children who will only thrive if they are safe, healthy, and well cared for,” said Sherry Guarisco, Executive Director of the Louisiana Partnership for Children and Families.

For a list of centers with revoked licenses in the past two years, please click here.

For more information on Child Care Licensing, please click here.

To read the full text of House Bill 197 (Act 411), please click here.

To view pictures from today’s ceremonial bill signing, please click here.

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