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Texas Announces Jacob’s Law By Christine Cristiano The state of Texas has answered the call for the safe transportation of children in daycare thanks to Jacob’s Law. The new law was named after 4 year-old Jacob Adams who died of heatstroke after he was accidentally left inside a daycare van in July 2006. Jacob was left in the daycare van and upon his death, employees were instructed by daycare owner, Blynithia Washington, to remove his body from the van, and take it to a nearby park. Washington also instructed her employees not to call 911. In 2007, Washington was sentenced to two years in prison and the daycare was shut down.
07/29/09 Avonda Fox, Jacob’s mother, met with State Sen. Florence Shapiro who helped author the bill after hearing of Jacob’s unnecessary death. Thanks to Jacob’s law, starting in September, all daycare workers who transport children must complete two hours of transportation safety training annually. Avonda Fox has redirected her pain over the loss of her son by trying to help other families who have lost children under the same circumstances and prevent the useless death of another child from being left in a hot vehicle. According to Fox, ‘’it just shouldn’t happen. I wanted to try to save another life. It happens too often in Texas. This is reoccurring. It’s so preventable.’’ According to data compiled by Jan Null, a professor at San Francisco State University, ‘’on average, 37 children die each year across the country from vehicle related hyperthermia whether left behind by day-care workers or parents. Last year, nine children died in Texas.’’ Shapiro acknowledges that this is a growing problem in Texas and when represented with the new bill, her fellow colleagues were in favor of the new law.
‘’We quickly brought it to the forefront that there must be change. We have a responsibility as adults to never let that happen, and the continuation of this problem is what was so appalling.’’ In a speech at the Shiloh Terrace Baptist Church, Fox told the audience that ‘’when accidents like these happen, it doesn’t just affect the family who has lost the child. It affects the community. Employees lose jobs. The center shuts down. People need counselling.’’ Fox is working in conjunction with ChildcareGroup, a local nonprofit agency, to inform area daycares about Jacob’s law. ChildcareGroup has developed a training manual and video featuring Jacob’s story and emergency responder, Amber Adams, who was working at the time of Jacob’s death. The manual outlines various topics and stresses the importance of daily vehicle inspections, accountability of children when onboard, and the necessity of first aid kits. The agency has also developed a training manual, stickers, signs and key chains that remind daycare workers to ‘’Search our seats.’’ The visual reminders are designed to prompt daycare workers to consider transportation safety of the children onboard. In the wake of Jacob’s death, Fox also established the Jacob Fox Foundation to help families who are faced with the same circumstances to pay for funeral costs. At the time of her son’s death, Fox didn’t have enough money to pay for her son’s funeral, however, generous donations helped with the expenses.
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