HB 1126 would require the department of early learning to conduct a review of a child fatality or near fatality that occurred in an early learning program, a licensed child care center or licensed child care home. Additionally, the bill directs the Dept. of Early Learning to convene a child fatality review committee that would make recommendations to the department and to the legislature about changes in licensing requirements, practice or policy to prevent fatalities and strengthen safety and health protections for children. Further, HB1126 states that within 180 days following the fatality the department must issue a report on the results of the review and distributed to the appropriate committees of the legislature. The report would be subject to public disclosure. In determining whether to conduct a review, the department would be required to consult with the Office of the Family and Children’s Ombuds. The bill is also known as the Eve Uphold Act.
Amendment: As amended, HB 1126 does the following: Requires the child fatality review committee to coordinate with local law enforcement to ensure that the fatality review does not interfere with any ongoing or potential criminal investigation. During the review, the DEL must allow testimony before the committee by parents or guardians whose child's death is being reviewed. Additionally, the bill grants authority to the OFCO to access the DEL records that the OFCO considers necessary for the purposes of determining if a review shall be conducted in the case of a near child fatality. Finally, a definition for near fatality is provided.
House Floor Amendment: The bill was amended prior to passage to require the Department of Early Learning (DEL) to include the following individuals in the membership of the child fatality review committee: A law enforcement officer; A representative from a county or state health department; and A child advocate. Additionally, the bill requires the DEL to invite one parent or guardian who has had a child die in a child care setting to be a member on the child fatality review committee.
Human Services/Mental Health/Housing Amendment: As amended the bill clarifies that nothing in the Act creates a duty for the Office of the Family and Children's Ombuds to respond to complaints regarding children in the care of an early learning program, a licensed child care center, or a licensed child care home.