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Bill Would Limit Children In Unlicensed Care

Posted: Mar 26, 2013 3:17 PM by Garrett Bergquist
Updated: Mar 26, 2013 4:25 PM

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JEFFERSON CITY - A mother whose son died in an unlicensed caregiver's home urged a House committee Tuesday to pass the bill carrying her son's name.

Shelley Blecha, whose son Nathan died at an unlicensed caregiver's house near Arnold in 2007, said many parents like herself cannot afford to stay at home and cannot find a daycare center that works for their child. Blecha said she was unaware Nathan's caregiver was looking after ten children that day, including several of the caregiver's own grandchildren.

The bill, called Nathan's Law and sponsored by Rep. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, is similar to another bill from last year's session.

Under current state law, unlicensed child care providers can look after up to four unrelated children for pay, but that total does not include children who are related to the provider by blood, marriage or adoption. Schupp's bill would repeal a provision that exempts from state licensing a family-run daycare center that also cares for other children. It would make related children count toward the limit if the person is also looking after one unrelated child. Children who are kindergarten-age or older would not count toward this total.

Kerry Messer of the Missouri Family Network was the only person to testify against the bill. Messer told the House Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities that the bill could easily make people criminals for simply trying to help look after children when their neighbors need someone to do so. He said anyone seeking to provide child care as a business may have to go to expensive lengths to bring their home up to code if the bill passes.

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