A Georgia woman who learned through a tragic accident that there was no law in her state requiring day care centers to carry liability insurance is now leading a fight to force the requirement nationwide.
Jackie Boatwright suggests that parents ask day care centers they are considering a simple question, "Do you carry liability insurance?"
"People are under the assumption that child-care centers are required to have liability insurance," Boatwright said. "They aren't." In 2001, Boatwright's 14-month-old son, Juan, suffered severe brain damage at the day care when he was found headfirst in an unattended bucket of water that contained chemicals, including bleach.
Juan, now 6, is semi-comatose and ventilator-dependent. He occasionally opens his eyes and tries to talk. He lives in Lithonia with Boatwright and her 17-year-old son.
"Even though I hold a MBA, I never thought to ask if there was liability insurance," Boatwright said. "I knew they had a state license and thought surely insurance would have been required to even get a license," Boatwright said. "That state endorsement put my questioning at ease."
After her son was injured, Boatwright led a successful legislative effort to require Georgia day cares to publicly post their insurance status. Now, failure to disclose the information can result in a $1,000 fine per infraction.
H.R. 5694, introduced earlier this year, would make Georgia's "Juan's Law" a model for the nation. If this law passes, states that don't implement it will not receive federal child block grants for day cares. U.S. Rep. John Barrow said he introduced the national legislation as a way to make sure parents know what they're getting when they pay people to take care of their children.
Still, there is no law in Georgia that requires child care centers to carry liability insurance. Surely national legislation along that line would make sense as well.