New law will change unlicensed day care rules in Virginia

WASHINGTON – After a particularly deadly year for unlicensed day care centers in Virginia, Gov. Terry McAuliffe will sign new rules into law that aim to protect children.

The bill requires family day homes to disclose in writing that they are unlicensed. By July 2016, those homes can only care for up to four unrelated children —  down from five. Effective July 2017, licensed day care facilities must abide by the fingerprint-based national criminal history records checks. 

McAuliffe will ceremonially sign the legislation in Midlothian, Virginia on Tuesday morning.

Last October, a 1-year-old boy died in a house fire at an unregulated Midlothian day care. There were no working smoke detectors.

Last year, nine children died in unregulated day care homes, the most in a decade, according to the Washington Post.

All nine were younger than age 2.

Supporters say the new rules are progress, but some say they don’t go far enough. Maryland and D.C. require licenses for providers who care for any unrelated child on a regular basis.

Licensed providers abide by state health and safety standards.

Children are about three times more likely to die in unlicensed day care homes compared to regulated facilities. The Washington Post reports 51 children died at unlicensed homes throughout the past 10 years, compared to 18 children in regulated facilities. In 2014, three children died in unlicensed homes that didn’t have working smoke detectors.

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