Committee OKs bills on penalties for day care deaths

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LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Two bills that would create tougher penalties for day care providers if children die while in their care are headed to the floor of the Michigan House of Representatives.

The bills passed a House committee Tuesday, said state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, who’s sponsoring them.

If they become law, in-home child care providers would face a felony charge if a child dies in their care because state codes were violated. Day care providers could face up to 10 years in prison for a first offense and up to 20 years for a second offense.

Schuitmaker and Sen. Dave Hildenbrand, R-Lowell, introduced the bills after being contacted by the mother of a baby who died at a Kentwood day care. Cooper Fales was only 3 months old when he died in February 2015. His parents didn’t discover he wasn’t breathing until they got him home, though an investigation found he had died about two hours earlier.

The day care was shut down by the state. The woman who owned it so far has not faced criminal charges despite the fact that inspectors found she had violated several state codes.

Cooper’s parents, Mary and Zach Fales, testified before a legislative committee supporting the bills in March. Tuesday, Zach Fales told 24 Hour News 8 that while they can’t bring Cooper back, the bills will hold in-home child care providers accountable.

“Personally, I think it ought to be a second-degree child abuse felony for just violations themselves in some cases, especially when it comes to infants,” he said.

The bills have already passed the Senate. It’s not yet known when the full House may vote.—–Online:Senate Bill 746Senate Bill 747Find your state representative

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