Jackie Boatwright will have to wait until at least next week before a bill she hopes will keep children from suffering the same fate as her son makes it to the Senate floor for a vote.
In the meantime, she said, she will work hard to make sure that the Anthony DeJuan Boatwright Act continues to bear his name. The federal legislation would force child-care providers to disclose whether they have liability insurance.
Ms. Boatwright, who spent most of Thursday in Washington, was told that a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee is pushing to fold the bill into current legislation -- the Child Care Block Grant Act.
The former Augusta resident said she didn't find out which member proposed that, and is not happy it's even being considered.
"Of course that was not my desire, because I feel that it has enough merit based on what happened to my son and thousands of other children who have been maimed, lamed or killed in day care," Ms. Boatwright said by phone after leaving the Capitol. "It's important to stand on it's own as a solo bill."
DeJuan, called Juan, was injured in 2001 when he was 14 months old. He wandered into the kitchen of a Hephzibah day care and fell into a mop bucket filled with a mixture of bleach and water.
Juan, now age 9, suffered brain damage. The day care didn't have liability insurance and wasn't required to have it.
Ms. Boatwright said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., one of the committee members, gave her his word that the legislation will be done as a stand-alone bill. To fold it into an existing piece of legislation would weaken its intent, she said.
The bill will require child-care providers that receive Child Care and Development Block Grant funds to disclose whether they have liability coverage. The bill also would require states to recommend such coverage in their licensing process.
Through Ms. Boatwright's efforts, two states now have bills requiring liability coverage. Getting those passed wasn't easy, she said, so this delay doesn't faze her.
"I'm not disappointed, because I understand the political game, and it's something I'm accustomed to," Ms. Boatwright said, adding she will be calling legislators every day to make sure the bill stays as is.
"I'm going to see it through. And that's it."
Reach Mike Wynn at (706) 823-3218 or firstname.lastname@example.org.