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.