On Wednesday, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law a bill that makes operating an un-licensed daycare a criminal offense.

House Bill 197-sponsored by state Rep. Steve Pylant (R-Winnsboro) creates up to a $1,000 fine and a six-month jail term for the first offense.

Subsequent offenses carry up to a $5,000 fine, 12 months of jail time and ineligibility to apply for a child care license for up to four years.

Department of Education State Superintendent John White said the legislation will allow the department to ensure daycare centers are operating with children's safety as a top priority.

We take the welfare of Louisiana's youngest learners very serious. We're not going to allow unsafe child care centers to operate in this state," said . "This law provides the teeth necessary to help prevent instances where egregious violators are found to have a total disregard for the laws of our state, putting the safety of our children in jeopardy.
Under the new law, upon notification, Department of Education licensing staff will conduct a site visit to determine if a center is required by law to have a license issued by the Department, or if the center is operating without a valid, Department-issued license. After determining the center's licensing status in respect to the state law, the Department will turn over any evidence to law enforcement for any arrest for violations of state law.
To read the full text of House Bill 197 click here.