NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A new law makes it possible for people running unlicensed day care centers in Louisiana to face criminal charges.
Governor John Bel Edwards signed House Bill 197 into law June 16. The new laws creates criminal penalties for individuals found to be operating a child day care center without a valid license. It also creates penalties for continued operation of a child day care center after notification from the Department of Education that the operator must seek a license.
Penalties for violations include fines of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail on a first offense. A second offense could mean fines of up to $2500 and six months in jail. A second offense could also make the offender ineligible to apply for a child care license for a period up to 24 months. A third offense and subsequent offenses could mean fines of up to $5,000 and 12 months. People found guilty three or more times would not eligible to apply for a child care license for a period up to 48 months.
A child day care center is defined as any place or facility operated by any institution, society, agency, corporation, person or persons, or any other group for the purpose of providing care, supervision, and guidance of seven or more children, not including those related to the caregiver, unaccompanied by parent or guardian, on a regular basis for at least 12 1/2 hours in a continuous week.
"This legislation sends a clear message that we value our children too much to place them in harm's way, and we will work tirelessly to prevent anyone from operating a daycare center in our state illegally," said Governor John Bel Edwards.
The Child Care Association of Louisiana, Louisiana State Police, the Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police and the Louisiana Sheriff's Association pushed for the creation of this law.