Virginia Lawmakers Consider Bills for Children at Private Day Cares

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Cameron and Elly Lafkin Cameron and Elly Lafkin
Camden Lafkin Camden Lafkin
Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn, D-41st District Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn, D-41st District

This session lawmakers are considering bills to look out for the safety of kids at private day care centers in Virginia. The review follows a string of tragic cases in recent years at unlicensed centers in the commonwealth.

Parents whose children have died at home based day cares gathered in the capitol in support of several bills. They are asking for tighter regulation of unlicensed centers and further study of the system in Virginia.

Harrisonburg couple Elly and Cameron Lafkin lost their three-month-old daughter, Camden, in 2012. They believe their baby suffocated at a private in-home day care in Rockingham County.

"After Camden died the police arrested the child care provider, and of course they fingerprinted her when they arrested her, and it turned out that she had five alias names and was on felony probation at the time of Camden’s death,” Elly Lafkin said. 

The Lafkins and other families who have suffered through similar losses have worked with lawmakers over the years to tighten up regulation.

In 2015 they helped the General Assembly pass legislation to require small day homes to get a state license if there are five unrelated children in their care.

Some want to see Virginia upgrade its law to include more mandates for fingerprint background checks.

"We really have to move forward on that front because there are now federal regulations that we have to comply with and Virginia’s in jeopardy of losing money if we do not comply,” said Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn, D-41st District.

Filler-Corn is also hoping to see a comprehensive study exploring the exemptions that allow many centers to operate without a license.

A handful of these bills have been tabled for the year but there are several others still alive addressing child care safety.