Thursday, January 1, 2004

New crib, playpen law takes effect



By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FRANKFORT - Tougher state standards on children's beds in some day-care centers go into effect today in response to the death of an infant at an Independence day care this past September.

The standards require that the spacing between poles on cribs and playpens be no wider than 2 3/8 inches, something that has been recommended by the Consumer Product Safety Commission since 1974.

The changes were prompted by the Sept. 18 death of Leah Gabrielle Roark at Roni's Daylight and Nightlight Child Care. An autopsy showed the 8-month-old suffocated, and officials said the crib slats were too widely spaced to meet recommended standards in crib construction.

The day care was closed and cited for several safety and supervision violations, but no criminal charges were ever filed. Owners Jim and Ravenna Rogers told the Enquirer in October that they do not plan to reopen.

Robin Herring, with the now defunct Cabinet for Families and Children, said the baby's death drew attention to the need for clearer standards on safety. The old standard required bedding be "safe" but did not specify what that meant.

The new standards apply to certified homes, which are limited to caring for six children unrelated to the caregiver. That means that it wouldn't have applied to the Independence day care where the child died. It was licensed for up to 12 children unrelated to the caregiver.

Herring said inspectors of certified homes will begin using a card cut to the maximum approved width to measure the distance between crib slats and bars.

If bedding falls short of the standards, child care providers will have 30 days to correct the deficiency.

She said slat spacing shouldn't be an issue in cribs that are less than 30 years old.

"The problem is, we've got a lot of providers out there that don't necessarily buy new cribs," she said. "They might go to a rummage sale and buy a crib, or you might get an heirloom handed down to you. And it's those cribs that are out there that are the problem."

E-mail jhannah@enquirer.com




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