New requirements in effect for child care transportation

From Staff Reports

   Department of Human Services officials have designed new transportation requirements for child care providers to help ensure the safety of children who are being driven to and from child care, DHS Commissioner Natasha K. Metcalf said Tuesday.
   "We realize there are going to be additional costs associated with meeting the new requirements," said Metcalf. "But we can't put a price tag on the safety of thousands of children in Tennessee who are being driven to and from child care settings every day."
   Public hearings on the new requirements have been scheduled across the state in order to garner public comment. However, according to officials, emergency rules took effect in August to ensure the safety of children, and officials said they will remain in place until the final rules are enacted.
   The new rules require more stringent qualifications and additional training for child care vehicle drivers. They also call for the structural soundness of vehicles used to transport children, including regular maintenance and daily inspections.
   Changes also require a means of identifying and reporting vehicles being improperly driven while transporting children, instituting more detailed guidelines for the use of child restraint devices, and requiring additional supervision of children while they are being transported.
   The new rules affect child care providers licensed by DHS, including group child care homes, family child care homes, and child care centers. The rules follow recommendations made by a panel appointed by Gov. Don Sundquist earlier this year.
   The panel was appointed shortly after a child care van accident in April that resulted in the deaths of four children and the driver.