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Parents want change after unlicensed home care service takes in dozens of children at once

Now, parents are trying to make a change to state law to prevent the same thing happening to others.
Now, parents are trying to make a change to state law to prevent the same thing happening to others.
Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 10:29 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Several Hamblen County parents are asking for change after an at-home daycare service was caught babysitting more than 30 children without a license. A report by the Hamblen County Sheriff’s Office shows that 36 of unrelated children were in the daycare.

The woman, April Bernard, was caught watching the children in July of last year, and has faced no consequences, according to Department of Human Services representatives. A state law says that an unlicensed care provider can only watch up to four unrelated children at a time. Bernard was not charged with anything following the event, only told that she must limit her services to four or less children at a time

Parents told WVLT News that they thought their children were safe. “You know obviously we wouldn’t beat someone watching her for 20-25 dollars a day. It seemed like the perfect situation for us,” said parent Dustin Chandler. The reality of the situation was different, however. Images captured by police bodycam footage and parents show dirty diapers, small play areas and children in close quarters.

Heather Honto was concerned about the fire hazard the conditions created. “If the place would have caught on fire there’s no way they could have got the kids out.”

District Attorney Dan Armstrong said criminal charges were not brought forward because there was no proof of physical harm, adding that he didn’t believe children were at risk of serious injury or death.

Morristown Representative Rick Eldridge has drafted a bill that would pave the way for non custodial childcare providers to be charged with child endangerment even if there’s no proof of physical harm. That bill plans to go before lawmakers next week.

You can check the state website for a list of licensed care providers, and all complaints filed against them, here.

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