Thirty-one Hoosier children have died in day care centers in the last five year -- with three this year alone -- and Senator Joe Donnelly says that has to stop.
Our own Maureen McFadden interviewed him on Thursday as he took a break from a Senate vote in Washington on what's called the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act.
The bipartisan legislation, which passed on a 97-1 vote, would require annual state inspections of child care centers. It would also make day care more affordable for working families.
“How it would work is that for our licensed day care facilities, the state will be required to have at least one physical inspection each year, so that they are on-site taking a look, making sure the facility is safe. Second is that the operator of the day care center would have a background check,” Donnelly explained. “For unlicensed day care centers, it requires the state to have a plan to also make sure that those facilities are safe.”
Donnelly went on to reiterate, “My first obligation is to make sure our children are safe.”
Supporters of the legislation, which is designed to expand access to federally subsidized child care and improve its quality, say such care is a vital means to allow parents of modest means to stay in the workforce.
The measure, which will also ask states to kick in a higher percentage of their own money to bolster programs, is one of just a handful of bipartisan education bills that have come out of either chamber since the Obama administration took office.
We also talked to Senator Donnelly about the situation in Ukraine, and we’ll have that tonight at 11:00.
To watch our entire interview with Sen. Donnelly, in which he discusses Pope Francis and the tension in Ukraine, click on the video link at the top of this story.