State eyes hot-car cautions
State regulators are cracking down on violators of child care laws following the death of a child at a facility run by a state lawmaker’s company.
State employees will observe the loading and unloading of children at every facility that offers transportation, David Griffin, associate director of the Licensing and Quality Accreditation Unit in the Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education, told a legislative panel Monday.
If the state inspectors — who make three unannounced visits to child care facilities annually — miss the act of transportation, they will make another visit, Griffin told the Joint Performance Review committee at the Capitol.
Likewise, Tonya Williams, director of the Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education, told lawmakers that her agency would be paying close attention to alarm systems designed to prevent children from being left in a van.
A law passed in 2005 in the wake of another child’s death required buttons be placed in the back of child care vans. The idea is that a child care worker would need to walk to the back of the van — checking all of the seats — to press the button and deactivate the alarm.
“They’re required to walk through it,” Griffin said. “We’ve had cases reported, and we’ve dealt with those, where a van driver would ask a child at the back of van to turn the alarm off. That’s not allowed. We’ve had cases where they’ve tried to stand on the back bumper of the van and reach through and turn it off.”
In response to a question from Sen. Missy Irvin, R- Mountain View, Griffin said some child care centers have had “disabled” systems, though he said it’s hard to say whether that was an intentional act or a breakdown.
Rep. Mark Lowery, R-Maumelle, asked if there was any technological solution — independent from “human nature” — to ensure that children are removed from a van. He mentioned ID cards with bar codes or electronic child tracking systems as possibilities.