Daycare reform bills pass subcommittee

Lawton_A former Lawton woman whose son is permanently disabled because of a daycare worker's mistake is pushing for change at the state capitol. Edna Pittman's 3 year old son Demarion suffered irreversible brain damage last summer when day care workers left him in the back of a hot SUV for two hours. It happened Aug. 2 at the "Totally For Kids" daycare in Oklahoma City; a center which doesn't have liability insurance.

7-News Nightside reporter Elaina Rusk spoke to Edna Pittman at the capitol today. Pittmans is so passionate about the new house bills because her son is now disabled because of someone else's mistake, someone she trusted. And now she's left with all the bills because day care facilities aren't required by Oklahoma law to have liability insurance.

"My worst fear had become a reality," Pittman said when she recalled getting the phone call about Demarion's accident.

Forgotten in a hot car for two hours, Demarion's temperature spiked above 117 degrees. He was in a coma for two months. When he woke up he couldn't walk and couldn't talk. He can't feed himself, and the doctors aren't sure if he can even see. "I miss so much about my son," Pittman said. "I miss how he used to run around the house and play. I miss how he used to get in trouble. I miss him waking me up in the morning, saying 'Mommy, get up!' I miss all of that. So some days it's hard."

Their medical bills have topped a million dollars, but they are left to pay for it themselves because the small day care they used doesn't have liability insurance, and isn't required to. So now Oklahoma City Representative Mike Shelton has presented two house bills to change that.

One would require all day care facilities to carry a minimum of $200,000 dollars in liability insurance. The second would provide a fund to help parents pay for treatment following catastrophic accidents at day cares. Both bills passed unanimously this afternoon in the house social services subcommittee, so now they're on their way to the house floor. "I feel confident that the house will pass each piece of legislation," Representative Shelton said, "but we continue to talk to each member, tell our story."

Tuesday in the committee review, even the chairwoman got choked up listening to Edna's story. "It lets me know that they care," Pittman said. "They have families and they put themselves in that situation, that this could possibly happen to us. We hope that it doesn't, but it's possible that it could."

Babysitters and caretakers who only take care of one family would not be included in the requirements of these new bills; it's only for licensed day care facilities.