TOPEKA — The Kansas Senate approved legislation Wednesday that would require inspections of all home day cares in the state.
The measure would do away with a system for "registered" home day cares and instead require that all day cares in the state be licensed. The bill would subject licensed day cares to inspections that would cost providers $10.
The Senate's 26-13 vote sends the bill to the House.
The legislation has been named Lexie's Law for 13-month-old Lexie Engelman, who suffered fatal injuries on her third day at a Johnson County home day care in 2004. Her parents have pushed for reform.
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According to Kansas Action for Children, a nonprofit organization that works to improve the lives of Kansas children, five children died in child care facilities in 2008 and 10 died in 2009.
Under current law, registered home day cares don't face an initial inspection nor do they face follow-up inspections. Sen. Julia Lynn, R-Olathe, said the registered status gives parents a false sense of security.
Currently in the state, 45 percent of day care homes are licensed and 38 percent are registered.
Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, said the law would require better supervision of children. For example, children would have to be within sight or hearing of the provider and napping youngsters would have to be checked on regularly.
"Clearly the problems that have occurred and been bought to our attention, many of them could have been avoided had there been more direct supervision in many of these homes," Kelly said.
The bill also would require the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to create an online database of licensed day cares and include information about complaints that parents could access, she said.
Sen. Mary Pilcher Cook, R-Shawnee, however, said she was concerned the measure could "destroy the self-reliance of families and force them to become reliant on government assistance."