Published On: Fri, Aug 26th, 2011

County Commission adopts new rules requiring alarms in child care vans

A year after a 2-year-old died in a sweltering hot van at a Delray Beach child care center, the Palm Beach County Commission has adopted new regulations for child care facilities, one of which mandates safety alarms in transportation vans.

Sitting as the Child Care Facilities Board, commissioners approved a series of changes to child care facilities rules, including the requirement for alarms in vehicles used for transporting six or more children.

The panel also voted to reduce site requirements for outdoor play areas, require child care personnel to have a high school diploma and additional pre-licensing training requirements.

In August 2010, 2-year-old Haile Brockington died after she was forgotten in the back of an extremely hot day care van.

To help child care centers pay for the alarms, the county’s Children’s Services Council has set aside up to $100,000.  The alarms range in price from $250 to $400.  The money would provide day care centers with a one-time reimbursement.

“We want to avoid any tragedies like Haile Brockington,” Gaetana D. Ebbole, the services council’s chief executive officer told commissioners. “We are pleased to make this offer to help keep Palm Beach County’s children, our most precious cargo, healthy, safe and strong.”

Under the new rules, day care centers have to have the alarm systems installed by Sept. 1, 2012. They work by forcing the driver or bus aide to walk to the back of the bus to deactivate the alarm after the ignition has been turned off.  The presumption is that the person will notice if any children have been left behind.

At its Aug.16 meeting, the commission also took the following action:

Mortgage Foreclosure Registration – adopted an ordinance requiring banks and mortgage companies to register properties in foreclosure, inspect those properties and identify a property maintenance company for each foreclosed property.

Firearms – approved on preliminary reading and to advertise for public hearings on Sept. 13 five ordinances mandated by state law pertaining to the sale, purchase, possession, use and storage of firearms.

Homelessness – approved a memorandum of agreement with the Homeless Coalition of PBC to advocate and educate on the issue of homelessness and to pursue resources in pursuit of the county’s Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness. The county will provide staffing and office space for the coalition at the county’s Division of Human Services. Commissioners also adopted a resolution reducing membership on the Homeless Advisory Board from 36 to 19 members.

Palm Tran – approved a three-year joint participation agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) in the amount of $863,400 per year to fund service frequency increases on two Glades-area Palm Tran routes. No county funds are required.

Economic Development – conceptually approved a Section 108 Loan Program agreement in the amount of $592,000 (pending HUD approval) and a Brownfields Economic Development Initiative (BEDI) grant in the amount of $182,451 for America’s Sound, Inc. The audio equipment manufacturer plans to renovate a building located within the Avenue A Revitalization Project in Belle Glade, creating 35 new full-time jobs over the next five years.

Annexations – approved the voluntary annexation of an enclave totaling 1.21 acres on Kirk Road into the village of Palm Springs and a 3.44-acre parcel on Indiantown Road into the town of Jupiter.