Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Rep. Barrow wants criminal penalties for unlicensed day cares

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BATON ROUGE - Representative Regina Barrow (D-Baton Rouge) is spearheading a movement to create criminal penalties for operating a day care without a license.

She brought the issue up today at the state's Early Childhood Care and Education Advisory Council. Barrow wants a committee formed to research the issue.

Currently operating an unlicensed daycare can result in a $1000 a day fine. However, there are no criminal penalties.

"We have to look at changing the current law," said Barrow. The idea of creating criminal penalties is deter people from breaking the law.

The issue came to ahead in early June when a 22-month-old girl was left in a hot van and died at a North Baton Rouge day care. The facility was operating without license.

Throughout the state there are more children in unlicensed day cares than licensed ones according to the Child Care Association of Louisiana. But that's not to say all of these centers are illegal.

Under state law a day care center can operate without a license if it has six children or less. Many people think of this as babysitting.

But child advocates worry unregulated day cares will take on more than six children. "The problem is we don't know because there's no regulation and there's no checking," said Melanie Bronfin with the Policy Institute for Children.

Bronfin said most states require a license for day cares with 3 children or more.

Representative Barrow said she'll continue to work with the advisory council and hopes her work will produce legislation next year.


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