Legislation to require day care providers to carry liability insurance has cleared its first major hurdle in the State Senate. House Bill 2863, called Demarion’s Law, was approved unanimously by the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday.
Last year, 3-year-old Demarion Pittman was accidentally left in a day care van. By the time he was discovered, his body temperature had risen to 117 degrees, causing a heat stroke resulting in severe brain damage and neurological disorders. Now in a wheelchair, Demarion and his mother, Edna, attended the committee hearing. Fighting back tears, Edna explained why the legislation was needed.
“He no longer talks, no longer walks. He’s fed through a tube,” said Pittman. “…when we went to find help, we found out that the day care did not carry insurance, and the reason that they did not carry insurance was because the Department of Human Services does not require that day cares carry liability for accidents.”
The Pittmans are now facing millions of dollars in medical bills. She said her husband, Timothy, has been forced to take a second job, and the family has been devastated. “I just never want another Oklahoma family to go (through) what my family has gone through,” Pittman said.
Sen. Debbie Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City, is the Senate author of the measure, and Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City, is the House author. Leftwich said the legislation would require day care facilities to carry a minimum of $200,000. If a day care facility cannot get liability insurance, they must notify the parents of the children they provide care for. If a facility does have insurance and fails to renew, that can be grounds for the suspension of its license.
“What happened to the Pittman’s son is heartbreaking, but that loss was made even worse when they learned the day care center had no insurance to cover their tremendous medical expenses. Not only that, but because they are responsible citizens holding down jobs, they do not qualify for help from any other sources,” Leftwich said. “This bill won’t help the Pittman’s, but it will help other parents should the unthinkable occur to another child. I’m grateful to Edna for her courage and for her efforts on behalf of other Oklahoma mothers.”
Shelton applauded the Rules Committee after they voted to send the measure on to the full Senate for further consideration.
“I am very grateful to my fellow legislators for recognizing the need to protect hardworking families from the costs of a day care operator’s negligence” said Shelton. “Our families deserve to know that their children are safe when they are in the care of another, and if the negligence of their child care provider harms their child, why should the parents have to face losing their home and depleting their savings to pay medical bills? I have no doubt my colleagues in the Senate will come through for our families and pass this measure.”