Child Care Safety Alarm Law to go into Effect

On August 1, 2009, the Jalen Knox-Perkins day care van alarm bill will go into effect. This bill mandates that a child safety alarm be placed in the rear of certain child care vehicles. This requires a 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. Alarms must be installed by August 1, 2009 (see the notification from the Department of Children and Families here). You can read the full text of the bill here.

One safety alarm vendor present at a public hearing estimated that the alarms cost between $200 and $350 with installation. DCF has created a list of potential vendors who carry alarms that may meet the requirements in the bill. The list can be found here. DCF does not endorse any of these vendors and states the it is the child care provider’s responsibility to make sure that the alarm that they choose is acceptable.

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.

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