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Jaclyn Frank Law RCW 43.215.360 Minimum licensing requirements — Window blind pull cords.   
  1. Minimum licensing requirements under this chapter shall include a prohibition on the use of window blinds or other window coverings with pull cords or inner cords capable of forming a loop and posing a risk of strangulation to young children. Window blinds and other coverings that have been manufactured or properly retrofitted in a manner that eliminates the formation of loops posing a risk of strangulation are not prohibited under this section.
  2. When developing and periodically reviewing minimum licensing requirements related to safety of the premises, the director shall consult and give serious consideration to publications of the United States consumer product safety commission.
  3. The department may provide information as available regarding reduced cost or no-cost options for retrofitting or replacing unsafe window blinds and window coverings.
[2007 c 299 § 1.]
Notes: Short title -- 2007 c 299: "This act may be known and cited as the Jaclyn Frank act." [2007 c 299 § 2.]

State Violations State keeps child care violations from parents Formal records request required to get information By ERIN MIDDLEWOOD AND STEPHANIE RICE THE ASSOCIATED PRESS VANCOUVER -- Michele Frank did more research than many parents before choosing child care for her daughter, Jaclyn. Frank obtained a list of providers from the state-supported Child Care Resource & Referral Network, visited 22 of them and then made unannounced visits to five. Yet her daughter died in December 2005 at 18 months old, strangled by a window blind cord dangling near a crib at the home child care she chose in Bothell. Frank thinks a state child care licenser should have identified the cord as a hazard. The case spurred the Legislature to pass a law named for Jaclyn that prohibits unsafe blind cords at child care facilities. Now Frank is turning her attention to another hazard: lack of information. Consumers can go online and find a health score and details of violations at the coffee cart where they buy their latte, but when it comes to the place that cares for their children, regulators provide no specifics. It was only after Jaclyn died that Frank learned there were four valid complaints against her child care provider, Julie Norris, including one for lack of supervision after a toddler broke a leg. "If I had known any of those, no way would I have chosen her," Frank said. "I really felt I did the homework, and that I was picking the best provider. I thought there was a check and balance." Even parents of children who have been hurt in child care have difficulty getting details from regulators. Denice Oliver, whose daughter was injured on a field trip with Southwest Washington Child Care Consortium's Evergreen center, tried to find out what became of her complaint. "I could not get that information," Oliver said. It took The Columbian newspaper two years to obtain records on child care facilities operating in Clark County -- first from the state Department of Social and Health Services and then from the new Department of Early Learning, which took over child care oversight in 2006. The Columbian filed a total of 14 records requests to the two departments and the state Auditor's Office, and made two appeals to the Attorney General's Office. The state took five months to fulfill one of the requests. Most took 45 to 60 days to fulfill. Then the Department of Social and Health Services and the Department of Early Learning removed from the files the names of parents who had complained about child care facilities, contrary to a directive from the Attorney General's Office in response to the paper's appeal. The Department of Early Learning became more forthcoming after The Columbian took concerns to the new agency's director, Jone Bosworth, in July. Parents have two sources of information on licensed child care: a state-funded referral service and a state Web database of providers that are both nearly useless when it comes to assessing the safety of a facility. The Washington state Child Care Resource & Referral Network offers nothing on a child care provider's compliance record. A well-meaning parent could be referred by the state-supported service to child care facilities with a history of health and safety violations. The state alerts the referral network to stop providing information on child care providers only after they have been put on probation or have had their licenses suspended. The referral network operates under a contract with the state, yet the network does not have access to the state's database of violations. "Parents should be able to go one place and find out everything they need to know," said Elizabeth Bonbright Thompson, the network's executive director. "We find parents often will spend less time choosing quality child care than they do a car. There's this sense of urgency, and they don't really know what to look for. We can't give a recommendation." The Department of Early Learning's Web site offers little help. State law requires that the child care regulatory agency provide on a "publicly accessible Web site all inspection reports and notices of licensing actions, including the corrective measures required or taken" dating back to July 2005. The Department of Early Learning Web site never attained that level of detail and, in fact, recently removed some information. The Web site previously listed the nature of the offense -- a broad description, such as "supervision," "overcapacity," "discipline" and so on -- but this summer the agency removed the labels. As of now, all parents can find online is the number of violations in a provider's file since 2005. The Department of Early Learning took the labels off after Rep. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, met with agency officials to voice providers' concerns. Walsh would like the department's Web site to be "kind of a marketing tool" that lets providers "espouse the virtues and benefits of being at their day care." At the very least, she wants providers to be able to offer statements about violations listed. The labels can sound much more serious than the actual infractions, Walsh said. "We need to be very careful when we put something on the Web site," she said. "People read between the lines. I don't think it's government's place to come in and destroy businesses." The information on violations and complaints is public and parents need it to make good child care decisions, countered Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Bellevue. A former Microsoft Corp. employee, Hunter serves on the committee that oversees state information technology projects. "People don't like to have their dirty laundry out in public. I'm sorry, don't create dirty laundry," Hunter said. "This is public data. It wants to be free." Although the Web site lists a phone number parents can call to ask questions and get more details, it's much more helpful to be able to research several child care facilities at once online, he said. "There's a reason we use computers to analyze data -- because it works," Hunter said. To review provider files, parents must submit formal public records requests, a process unfamiliar to most. And when an information request is filed, the state notifies the provider. "Do you think that's going to create a good working environment for your child in that care?" Hunter asked. Other states make it easier for parents. In North Carolina, parents can go to a user-friendly Web site and find a provider's rating, as well as a detailed history. The site has a guide to understanding how facilities are scored in the categories of staff education, program standards and compliance. Department of Early Learning director Bosworth said the agency is moving forward on providing more online information to parents. In December, the department expects to take the intermediate step of adding back labels for valid complaints against providers, along with real-life examples of that type of offense but not the actual details for the listed violation. Eventually, the Web database will enable parents to search for child care on an interactive map and to click to obtain licensing history. However, that will require funding for a new information system, Bosworth said. "I have a strong belief in transparency," she said. "That's going to be a new approach in business. And we're not there yet." Earlier this month, her agency selected child care facilities to test a new voluntary Quality Rating and Improvement System, which would give parents a snapshot of how well a program meets benchmarks. Educational Service District 112's Southwest Washington Child Care Consortium was among the five selected. It has until July 2008 to survey parents about the quality measures they would like to see. Currently, 12 states have a quality-rating system. Thirty states, including Washington, have one under development. Tennessee has the best model for determining ratings, said Richard Brandon, a University of Washington researcher. There, the state contracts with independent reviewers who spend time at the facilities to watch the interaction. Washington licensers look at the structure of a program -- the adult-child ratio, for example but not the quality. Some are not optimistic that the quality-rating system will be a cure-all in Washington. Stu Jacobson of the Bellevue-based Washington Parents for Safe Child Care said as long as the rating system is optional, it won't work: "Who's going to opt out? Every weak program." Michele Frank, whose daughter died, is also skeptical. "It's a lot of bells and whistles, but I don't think it's going to fix it," Frank said. "What do we have in place that's truly ensuring checks and balances and that parents know what's going on?"

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