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Lawmakers want jail time for illegal daycares

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BATON ROUGE - Some state lawmakers want individuals operating illegal daycares to face jail time. Currently a daycare operating without a state license can be fined $1000 a day, but there are no criminal penalties on the books for the offenders.

The issue came to a head in June when a toddler died after being left in a hot van at a Baton Rouge daycare. The facility was operating without a license.

"It should be a criminal act," said State Superintendent John White. "It should be a crime to operate a daycare without a license."

In order for a daycare center to get a license it must meet a number of requirements including having a certified director, conduct criminal background checks on its employees, and submit to regular inspections.

The daycare where the child died had lost it's license for not having enough staff members to watch all the children.

"I think it's very important that we have high standards especially when it's related to our children," said Rep. Regina Barrow (D-Baton Rouge).

Barrow along with Rep. Dalton Honore (D-Baton Rouge) want a criminal penalty to discourage underground daycare centers.

"If you operate it as a business then you should be qualified," said Honore. "It should be properly managed and properly inspected."

Barrow said she'll bring the issue up next month at the Early Childhood and Development Advisory Council, an early step in the lawmaking process.


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