JEFFERSON CITY, MO (STL.News) – Safety standards to ensure the health and well-being of children in unlicensed in-home day care facilities have been signed into law by Missouri’s governor. Senate Bill 336 sponsored by Missouri State Senator Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, was added to an omnibus child protection bill, House Bill 397 , signed Thursday and will go into effect on August 28, 2019.
SB 336, referred to as “Nathan’s Law,” closes the loophole that allowed for unlicensed in-home child care businesses to provide care without limitations on the numbers of babies and small children in their care at any point in time. Under the new law, any provider caring for more than six children under school age, must be licensed. Within the cap of six children, no more than three can be under the age of 2. School-aged children living in the home are exempt from the cap.
In addition, the new law strengthens accountability standards by increasing the criminal penalty and fine for violation upon a substantiated complaint and failure to correct violations. The Department of Health and Senior Services will also have the ability to file suit in civil court.
The death of 3-month-old Nathan Blecha, who suffocated in his crib at an unlicensed day care in 2007, inspired the law, which has been a legislative priority for a decade.
“No family should have to go through what the Blecha family and so many other Missouri families have endured,” Sen. Schupp said. “Passage of this law will save lives by making in-home day care centers safer for children. I thank the governor, House and Senate sponsors, department personnel and the many advocates who worked with us to finally make Nathan’s Law public policy.”
For more information on Sen. Schupp’s legislation, visit her official Missouri Senate website at www.senate.mo.gov/schupp.