On Tuesday, AB176/SB141 passed unanimously through the Assembly and was approved by a voice vote in the Senate. 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 next go to the Governor who is expected to sign it into law. Tuesday also brought a report of a 3-year-old boy being left on a child care bus in Milwaukee. Read the report here.
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. If passed, current providers will have a 3 month grace period to comply with the new law. You can read the full text of the bill here.
The alarms have been estimated to cost between $200 and $350 with installation. Providers who do not comply with the law can be charged with a misdemeanor, carrying a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to one year in jail. An amendment to the bill, offered by Spencer Coggs (D-Milwaukee), allows for a maximum $10,000 fine and up to three and half years in jail to anyone who turns off an alarm without first checking the vehicle for children.
The Department of Children and Families, Reid’s Child Care Academy, Penfield Children’s Center, the Milwaukee Police Department, the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, and the City of Milwaukee Health Department have all voiced their support for the bill. An opinion article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today, however, cautions against believing that this bill will prevent all future transportation errors. You can read that article here.
I agree with the article cited in this entry that more should be done to make sure the children are safe, such as better background checks on the drivers of the daycare vehicles. I also think more attention needs to be given to the teachers in these programs. These teachers should be keeping track of the children they are responsible for when they are dropped off at the center. There should also be more communication between the centers and the parents when the children are taken home from daycare.
An important clarification regarding implementation of the Child Care Vehicle Safety Alarm Bill I received at the Southern Region Licensing Meeting today (5/5/09) – Provders will have 15 months from the date Governor Doyle signs this bill – 12 months from signing as the official effective date and then 3 months to implement.
Is there a list of places to get this put on a vehicle? Or a name of the alarm?
Thanks for the question! The Department of Children and Familie (DCF) has created a list of potential vendors who carry vehicle alarms. The list can be found here. Note: DCF does not endorse any of these vendors and states that it is the child care provider’s responsibility to make sure that the alarm that they choose is acceptable.