Senate to Debate Changes to Child-Care Licensing, Investigations

Related Story

JEFFERSON CITY - Legislation coming up for debate this week in the state Senate could change how child-care providers in Missouri are licensed and, if necessary, investigated.

Senate Bill 448 would establish Sam Pratt's Law and Nathan's Law. Sam Pratt's Law would allow the Department of Health and Senior Services to investigate an unlicensed child care provider if the provider has pending child abuse or neglect charges. The department could also prohibit an unlicensed provider from continuing to provide child care if there were charges pending.

Nathan's Law, meanwhile, would require unlicensed child-care providers to disclose their lack of a license to parents and allow the department to shut down illegally operating child-care facilities. It also modifies the threshold for licensing. Under current state law, child-care providers in Missouri do not have to have a license if they care for four or fewer children. Nathan's Law would leave this limit in place, but would include children who are related to the provider (but not living in the provider's home) in the count.

In a similar vein, Senate Bill 758 would require the Children's Division to investigate any cases where three or more calls about the same child are made to the state's child abuse hotline within a 72-hour period. The bill would also prohibit division workers from calling ahead before a home visit if they had reason to believe this could cause the alleged perpetrator to either harm the child or flee.