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Utah day cares may soon have to tell parents if they have insurance

Utah day cares may soon have to tell parents if they have insurance. / KUTV

(KUTV) On May 15, 2017, Shelise Musall lived every parent's nightmare. Her 1-year-old son, Kastyn, was badly hurt at his daycare.

"He was in a coma for 3 weeks," she said.

A worker at the in-home center had tried to contain Kastyn in a playpen by putting a picture frame over the top of it. Kastyn tried to climb out but his head was wedged between the playpen and the frame cutting off his oxygen.

Shelise says it caused extensive brain damage.

"He's like a newborn baby again," she said. "Before he was perfectly normal. He ran around with his twin and was a monkey, climbed up everything.”

The daycare worker was convicted of child abuse and sentenced to 80 days in jail.

That doesn’t help Shelise now. She had to quit her job to tend to her son and Kastyn's medical care isn't cheap.

Shelise and her mom, Keri, started looking at their options to help cover the out-of-control costs. It was only then that they learned their daycare provider had no insurance.

“It was shocking," Keri said.

Shocking but not against the rules. Child care providers in the state of Utah are not required to carry insurance in order to be licensed.

Utah health department officials are proposing changing the requirements in Utah that would make daycares notify parents if they are uninsured.

Utah’s child care licensing administrator Simon Bolivar says he is making the push, in large part, due to Kastyn’s family’s ordeal.

"We will only be asking if they do have liability insurance,” Bolivar said. “If they don't, then we will be checking that they let parents know in writing that they don't have it."

The rule change has been put forward and is taking public comment. Bolivar expects it will pass and says it is not an overreach.

"We are not forcing providers to have liability insurance," he said. “It is easy to do.”

Shelise and Keri support the rule change but would like to see it pushed further to require all daycares have liability insurance.

“I'd like to push it a little farther,” Keri said. “I'm not 100% sure how, but I'm not ready to give up yet."

The owner of the daycare where Kastyn sustained his injuries told Get Gephardt by phone that she also supports the rule change. She says that after Kastyn was hurt, she sought-out and purchased insurance. She says it is affordable, costing her about $300 per year.

Liz Hamilton is the president of the Professional Family Child Care Association of Utah. She also runs a daycare out of her home for which she has liability insurance.

Hamilton also supports the rule change but says some members of her organization don’t believe insurance should be required in Utah. Some don’t carry it due to the price -- or ins some instances the availability of insurance policies that cover in-home daycares.

Get Gephardt reached out to every state’s child care licensing department in the country to see how Utah’s rules compare.

  • 16 states don't require insurance, including Utah and AK, OR, IA, NE, CO, MO, WY, MN, OH, MI, AL, MA, FL, NC, MD and CT.
  • 13 states require all providers to have insurance: WA, HI, NV, AZ, ID, MT, OK, AR, KY, TN, NJ, RI and VT.
  • 13 states only require child care ‘facilities’ be insured, but not in-home daycares: SD, ND, KS, TX, LA, WI, IL, IN, DE, NY, PA, ME and VA
  • 7 states don't have any insurance requirement, but already do what Utah is proposing - parents must be notified if the provider does not have insurance. Those states are CA, NM, MS, CA, SC, WV, and NH.
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