New regulations at Florida child care facilities hope to cut down on hot car deaths

Regulations take effect beginning April 2

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- Leaving a child in a hot car may seem like something no parent could ever do. But it happens. And the results are often deadly.

According to the Department of Children and Families, the problem of kids being left in hot vehicles occurs accidently when a parent changes their routine.

"Hot car deaths are a problem, maybe even an epidemic especially in our state. It’s something we are all concerned about," said Will Anderson, a father of two young girls.

On Wednesday, police say a child died after being left inside a hot car at a Miami shopping plaza. Witnesses say the child's mother works nearby and forgot her child in the car.

Police say the mother performed CPR when she found her son in the backseat. It is unclear if she will face charges, but people who know the woman say she wasn't scheduled to work Wednesday and was called in on her day off. 

Starting April 2, DCF says counties can choose to enforce a new list of regulations when it comes to kids at childcare facilities.

"We always want to protect children and that’s our number one priority," said Denay McLaughlin, the owner of Oak Crest Pre-school in Tarpon Springs.

McLaughlin says her staff is already starting to implement the changes.

One big requirement that is new: calling parents to ask where their child is if they don't show up within an hour of their scheduled drop off time. If they don't answer, employees must then call their emergency contacts.  

"Ultimately it comes back to the parents, if they call the schools and notify them that they are not going to be there then none of this would have to take place," said McLaughlin. 

Anderson is all for protecting children, but he is not sure the new rules are necessary.

"There is no designated start time with daycare, I can drop my kids off whenever I want," Anderson said. "If you’re needlessly calling emergency contacts, it’s just that, it’s signaling to people that it’s an emergency, you were worrying people needlessly and causing undue stress."

DCF says each county has the right to enforce the rules or not. The Pinellas County licensing board says it will.

There is also a new regulation when it comes to picking children up. The parents or legal guardians must put in writing that someone not on the pick up list is getting their child from daycare. It can be through a text, e-mail or fax. 

There are a few other regulations going into effect on April 2, click here for the full list.

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