NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC ADVOCATE INTRODUCES CHILDCARE SERVICES SAFETY BILL

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[Childcare\Child Safety]
Public Advocate Williams: "Right now, there is an information and safety gap between childcare providers and parents...This is a measure that would provide peace of mind and prevent tragedy for parents and childcare providers alike."
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Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams introduced legislation Tuesday aimed at protecting the safety of young children by preventing them from falling through potential gaps between parents or guardians and childcare centers through improved communication.

Under this bill, childcare centers would not only be required to quickly contact the primary caretaker such as a parent or legal guardian if a child is absent without advance notice. Rather, if they are unable to reach that primary caretaker, they would need to reach out to two additional emergency contacts.

"Right now, there is an information and safety gap between childcare providers and parents in confirming that young children are unaccounted for," said Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams. "While this is thankfully usually harmless, we have also seen tragedy in these accidents and oversights. By simply expanding outreach to include two additional contacts, we increase the opportunity for a child's whereabouts to be confirmed and their safety protected. This is a measure that would provide peace of mind and prevent tragedy for parents and childcare providers alike."

This bill, Intro 1880, would help reduce incidents where a child's whereabouts are unaccounted for and any potential tragedy resulting from such errors. In July of 2019, a Rockland County father was charged with manslaughter after inadvertently leaving his one-year old twins in the car for eight hours. This was not an isolated incident - in the last two decades, over 400 children have been killed in similar situations. When a child is unaccounted for, it increases the possibility of these and similar dangers, but current law only requires that a childcare center make a single attempt to reach a primary caretaker.

The New York City Health Code mandates childcare providers reach out to their primary contact within an hour of the child's unanticipated absence by call, text, or email. This bill, which is co-sponsored by Council Members Farah N. Louis and Fernando Cabrera, would expand upon that requirement, providing that there must be confirmation of receipt through one of the approved methods within 30 minutes of the first attempt to reach out. If there is no confirmation of receipt within the designated time window, the childcare provider would have to reach out to two other emergency contacts listed at least three more times.

"Last July an unthinkable tragedy occurred in my district, in which a father mistakenly left his year-old twins in a car while he went to work," said Council Member Fernando Cabrera. "The extreme heat that built up in the vehicle led to the children's deaths leaving a family and a community heartbroken. We learned that a number of factors contributed to this devastating event. One of these was the daycare provider's inability to obtain a response from emergency contacts regarding the children's unexplained absence. I'm joining Public Advocate Jumaane Williams in strengthening the City's health code by requiring parents or guardians to provide two additional emergency contacts, and child care providers to reach out at least three more times after the initial call. Nothing is more precious than our children and we are taking all necessary steps to prevent any more such tragedies."

"As adults - parents, guardians, and childcare providers - we are the first line of defense when it comes to the well-being of our children, said Council Member Farah N. Louis. "Raising a child is a wonderful responsibility that we share collectively and therefore the onus is on us to do all that we can to account for their whereabouts around-the-clock. Intro 1880 is a critical step forward in expanding the lines of communication to save lives and prevent tragedies that no family should ever have to experience."

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