FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                 FURTHER INFORMATION:
February 2, 2000                                                                                                               Patricia Harris-Morehead at (615) 313-4707 or
                                                                                                                                            Ed Lake at (615) 313-4710


Criminal background checks and civil penalties or fines for serious violations are included.

NASHVILLE— Today, the Sundquist Administration filed legislation aimed at improving the quality of care at licensed child care facilities in the state and ensuring the health and safety of young children. The 128-page bill offers a comprehensive overhaul of the state's child care law.

"After the unfortunate tragedies that captured the public's attention last summer, and the other serious incidents that seem to be occurring much too often at some of our child care centers, I am hopeful the General Assembly will be receptive and supportive of this bill," Governor Don Sundquist said.

The Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) is the licensing agency for most child care facilities in this state. DHS issues child care licenses for Family Child Care Homes (5 to 7 children), Group Child Care Homes (8 to12 children), and Child Care Centers (13 or more children).

"We have developed comprehensive revisions that we believe are desperately needed to help us improve the quality of care. Our children deserve safe, healthy, and high-quality child care," state Human Services Commissioner Natasha Metcalf said.

Proposed changes include:

In addition, a provision is added that requires child care agencies to allow parents to visit facilities at any time to observe the children's care and inspect any licensing records that are not confidential by law. Criminal penalties can be levied for refusing parents' access or requests.

Other proposed changes: