BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The state has launched a public awareness campaign for parents seeking child care services.
The move is in response to the tragic death of a 22-month-old toddler who died while in the care of an unlicensed daycare. The aim is to help parents track illegal childcare center operators.
Angel Green was just two months shy of her second birthday when police say she died inside a hot van registered
to Sheila Newman outside an unlicensed daycare center. It was then that investigators discovered Newman ignored a judge's orders to not run a daycare.
"The neglectful, immoral acts of an individual are what brought us here today," Supt. John White said.
White is the Superintendent of the Department of Education, which is over childcare centers in Louisiana. He said, after speaking to the child's mother, he realized something more needed to be done to help the public find legitimate, affordable healthcare.
"Today we are notifying every sheriff in our state, or local police chief, every school superintendent in those geographies that these persons have court orders levied against them," said White.
The department has launched a page on its website where it will list the people prohibited from operating unlicensed early learning centers. To date, there are 16 people spanning ten parishes.
White is counting on law enforcement and local school leaders to check on those individuals to make sure they are not running illegal centers. Concerned citizens can also use the site to file anonymous complaints. White said the registry will become permanent policy.
And to help parents pay for legitimate daycare, White is also recommending that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education increase its use of federal funds to help low income parents pay the bill. The hourly rate of the current stipend, $17.50 would increase to $22.50.
"It is unconscionable that poor individuals in our state, if they choose it for their children, cannot afford childcare when childcare is designed specifically to serve the poor of our state," said White.
White added that the public is key in helping the state regulate and fund a better childcare system.