Yesterday, in a joint session of the Senate’s committee on Children and Families and Workforce Development and the Assembly’s committee on Children and Families, AB176/SB141 passed unanimously. The bill, re-named the Jalen Knox-Perkins bill after the 4-month-old child who recently died after being left alone for several hours inside a child care transportation van, will go to the full Senate and Assembly next week.
The committees heard touching testimony from Perkins’ grandfather Keith Williams, who asked for swift passage of the bill. Others who testified in favor of AB176/SB141 included Henry Wilde and Jill Chase from the Department of Children and Families, Mary Reid of Reid’s Child Care Academy, Christine Holmes from Penfield Children’s Center, Darryl Winston from the Milwaukee Police Department, and Anna Benton from the City of Milwaukee Health Department.
At present, DCF licensing rules prohibit children from being left unattended in a child care vehicle. This bill would mandate that a child safety alarm be placed in the rear of certain child care vehicles. This would require the driver to physically move to the back, while checking to make sure all children have exited, to disarm the device. Under this bill a child care vehicle is defined as one that can seat 6 or more passengers in addition to the driver, is either owned or leased by a child care provider, and is used to bring children to and from child care. If passed, current providers would have a 3 month grace period to comply with the new law. You can read the full text of the bill here.
Similar legislation has been passed in Tennessee and Arkansas.