Investigation into daycare evacuation law prompts change - News, Weather & Sports

Investigation into daycare evacuation law prompts change

Tom Buford Tom Buford

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A WAVE 3 Troubleshooter investigation gets results as local daycares make changes to protect the safety of children. Troubleshooter Eric Flack exposed hundreds of local daycare centers not following a law requiring emergency evacuation plans. That story has now prompted the state of Kentucky to take action.

Cheryl Fekete believes daycare centers in Kentucky are finally getting the message, thanks to the Troubleshooter investigation.

"I think it helped the providers realize they do have a responsibility," Fekete said. "That the children's safety does come first."

Troubleshooter Eric Flack uncovered a staggering number of daycares not following a law requiring a written emergency evacuation plan for fire, natural disaster, or other catastrophe.

Fekete, Training Manager at Community Coordinated Child Care, a non-profit group that helps daycare centers meet state standards, said her groups phones are lighting up, "Since your story first aired two weeks ago," Fekete said. "We are swamped with phone calls."

4-C is now holding monthly training sessions to show managers what they need to comply with the new law. Providers may register for training by clicking here.

The new law requiring the emergency evacuation plans went into effect December 31. The Troubleshooter investigation discovered as of July, 1,975 day care and child care centers in Kentucky still didn't have emergency evacuation plans on file. That's 88 percent, and the numbers are even worse locally.

Senator Tom Buford wrote the law and told us this summer the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services was supposed to enforce it but hasn't been. After the story aired, spokesman Jill Midkiff responded by saying the cabinet thought the wording of the law meant day care centers have until the end of the year to submit the plans. Now, Midkiff and the cabinet has changed its tune.

In an email, Midkiff said inspectors doing annual reviews have started citing day cares that don't have emergency evacuation plans in place, using existing statutes already on the books. She wrote:

The Division of Regulated Child Care surveyors are inspecting for the Emergency preparedness plan during annual survey visits. If the facility/certified home is found to be non-compliant with this statute, we are citing them under the following regulations:

· Certified homes - 922 KAR 2:100, Section 17, 1 (d) 5 - The certified family child-care home provider shall develop written information that specifies the policy regarding emergency pick up.

· Licensed providers - 922 KAR 2:110, Section 3, (11) - A written plan and diagram outlining the course of action in the event of natural or manmade disaster, posted in a prominent place.

The violations are listed in a statement of deficiency and a plan of correction is requested from the provider.

Fekete said the loophole was created by a lack of coordination between the lawmakers writing the new regulations and the cabinet, who is responsible for enforcing it.

"The state realized they needed time to give child providers time to fulfil their obligation and write their plans," Fekete said. And by all indications the time has come.

Daycare providers may download all the state provided documentation on the emergency plan by clicking here.

Providers are required to send their plans to their local emergency management organization. For a county by county list of emergency management officials click here.

For the child care emergency disaster preparedness technical assistance guide, click here.

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