New Bill Could Increase South Plains Daycare Prices - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

6/19/07

New Bill Could Increase South Plains Daycare Prices

Another bill could mean an increase in daycare prices on the South Plains. The new law requires childcare workers to undergo fingerprint background checks before they are hired.

State Representative Delwin Jones voted in favor of the bill, he tells NewsChannel 11, "The industry had not developed plans earlier to minimize criminal aspects. So to the reaction was an overreaction to be sure everybody had to be spot checked before they went to work."

The change follows the heatstroke death of a 4-year-old who died while on a day care field trip in Dallas. The day care center's owner was licensed, despite having a criminal record.

But as NewsChannel 11 explains Lubbock daycares are now looking for ways to make up the new costs. Addison Spence, 6,  is at Boardwalk Summer Camp, which already does background checks on its employees.

The Director of Christian Preschool Centers, Corey Jones, says, "We eat the cost of what it costs to do background checks. Those can become, with the number of employees we hire, can accrue quite a bit."

The current cost of background checks is $2.00. However, the new bill requires fingerprint background checks, which typically cost about $50.00 a piece.

Owner of Creative Learning Center, Kathy Sisson, says, "You don't make enough money in childcare to continue to absorb these kinds of costs. So, essentially it will affect the pocketbooks of parents."

The law will require not just those working in the classroom with the kids to be finger printed but everyone at a daycare. In addition, some may have to pay for the fingerprint themselves.

"We're looking at maybe the employees to occur the cost, which means maybe we have less people that apply for position at daycare which is already hard enough," Jones said.

And while improving safety is not cheap, it does leave those like Addison's mom breathing a little easier.

"It makes me feel a lot more comfortable knowing that they're not felons, and I don't have to worry about her maybe being with a sexual predator," Mandin Spence said.

Twenty-nine states already require fingerprint checks. Here in Texas, it goes into effect September 1st, requiring checks for all new employees and current employees every 2 years.

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