For many working families, having access to a reliable and safe child care facility is at the top of their list. Unfortunately, in Missouri, location is not one of the factors taken into consideration prior to licensing our child care facilities. As a result, I am working with my colleagues in the Missouri Senate to change this by introducing legislation that continues to ensure our children’s safety and strengthens Missouri’s child care protection laws.

Senate Bill 386 authorizes the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to deny an application for a child care facility license if the facility’s proposed location is within 1,000 feet of any location where a registered sexual offender lives or receives treatment services. This bill was recently heard in the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee and was supported by child advocates and health care professionals alike. I believe this bill is a step in the right direction, and I look forward to moving it further through the legislative process.

Under current law, DHSS does not have the ability to deny an application for a child care facility license on the basis of its location. My proposal would authorize the agency to use discretion when approving these licenses. It is important that DHSS is able to make decisions that serve the best interests of our children, as well as the health care professionals who are providing services to individuals in need. This bill would not only strengthen those protections for our children, but it would ensure that DHSS is able to do their job more effectively.

In addition, I plan to introduce a substitute to SB 386 that would allow the measure, if passed by the General Assembly, to be immediately enforced once it has been signed into state law by the governor. Throughout the rest of this legislative session, I will continue to advocate on behalf of our children and work to truly improve the quality of life for all Missourians.

As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-7985. You may also email me at cindy.olaughlin@senate.mo.gov.